And for that, they had to thank Daryl Horgan for an absolute wonder goal which not only finally gave Turner’s Cross something glorious to cheer about but which also ensured that a morale-sapping run of four home defeats on the trot would not be extended.
The inevitable lack of confidence which comes on the back of a poor run of form was one obvious explanation for Cork’s nervy opening, with heavy touches and misplaced passes littering their play. And Drogheda could, and probably should, have punished them after 10 minutes, Cathal Brady failing to convert from close range having sneaked in unmarked at the far post to get on the end of David Cassidy’s cross.
But as the home side began to settle, Danny Morrissey squandered City’s first big chance of the game in the 15th minute. His first touch was excellent to take down Neal Horgan’s lofted through ball but, with goalkeeper Gabriel Sava advancing and the lob on, the striker went for power instead and succeeded only in ballooning the ball over the bar.
The home side seemed to be seizing the territorial initiative — albeit without creating much in the way of clear-cut chances — yet with Drogheda always threatening going forward, especially when the ball fell to the feet of the wily Gary O’Neill, there was relief in the Shed End when the returning Mark McNulty belatedly came off his line to save from Philip Hand, after hesitation in the Cork defence.
Lack of penetration at the other end of the pitch continued to be a huge problem for Cork who, despite some enterprising build-up play, had hardly posed the Drogheda defence any serious questions — either out wide or through the middle — as the first half drew to a close.
After the resumption, Danny Murphy did his best to drive Cork on from the back, and there was a big shout for a penalty when Danny Furlong was felled in the box as the home side finally began to exert a spell of sustained pressure on the Drogheda goal.
Daryl Kavanagh’s introduction from the bench on the hour mark was warmly received by the home support but it was Daryl Horgan who broke the deadlock with a piece of inspired impudence in the 69th minute, wriggling one way and then the other on the edge of the box before beating Sava with an exquisite chip. Greybeards might even have been reminded of Tony Currie, for this too was a quality goal from a quality player.
Drogheda were almost back on level terms soon after when, from a corner kick, Michael Daly’s powerful header hit the top of the crossbar before Gavin Brennan then went close with another headed effort at the far post. And with City dropping ever deeper, there was a growing risk that, as has happened so often this season, they would surrender their advantage late on.
But despite some jittery moments as the clock ran down, Cork held out to send themselves into the break with that most precious thing — a winning feeling.
CORK CITY: McNulty, N Horgan, Murray, Dennehy, Murphy, D Horgan, Dunleavy, Duggan, G Morrissey, D Morrissey (Kavanagh 59), Furlong (Buckley 82)
DROGHEDA UNITED: Sava, Grimes, O’Conor, Brady (R Brennan 63), Cassidy, O’Neill, Hand, Daly, O’Brien (Hynes 62), G Brennan, Byrne.
Referee: Jim McKell