A Billy Dennehy penalty and a fine strike from Gearoid Morrissey gave John Caufield’s side a two-goal lead before 17 minutes had elapsed and, despite some promising play at times by a rejuvenated Derry, that’s the way it stayed.
Former Sligo Rovers man Iarfhlaith Davoren, making only his second league start for Cork, was drafted in at left-back, with Brian Lenihan moved forward to the right side of midfield and Liam Kearney deployed centrally, as Gary Buckley stayed on the bench until late on.
For Derry, Pat McEleney overcame a calf strain to make the cut for Hutton, who also recalled Shane McEleney in place of Roddy Collins Jnr.
Ironically, it was Shane McEleney who was at fault as Cork took the lead in the 15th minute, the defender needlessly pushing Billy Dennehy as the Cork man held his ground under a dropping ball, the offence occurring in the box right in front of referee Robert Rodgers. The penalty award was inevitable, and Dennehy himself stepped up to blast Cork ahead against one of his old clubs.
Then, as the evening went from bad to worse for the visitors, they suddenly found themselves two down almost immediately, Morrissey picking up a loose clearance and angling a sweet low drive from outside the area in off the foot of the post.
Although almost completely in control of the game, Cork were given a warning in the 25th minute that there could be no room for complacency. Derry’s Aaron Barry was given the freedom of the City box as a cross came in, only to inexplicably direct his header closer to the corner flag than the goal.
Despite the sense of a chance squandered, Derry seemed to take encouragement from a glimpse of Cork’s vulnerability, the visitors now getting forward in numbers as the home side dropped ever deeper.
But while Mark McNulty still remained largely untroubled in the Cork goal, Derry’s Ger Doherty was called upon to make a fine save from a Mark O’Sullivan header seven minutes before the break, tipping the ball against the crossbar before Dan Murray’s successful follow-up on the rebound was ruled out by an offside flag.
As the second half kicked off, there was a feeling that Cork needed to restore the intensity of their play if they weren’t to allow Derry a way back into the game. And, within a minute of the restart, they came agonisingly close to putting the match to bed, O’Sullivan heading against the bar from an acute angle after Liam Kearney had glanced a Brian Lenihan cross to the far post.
Next it was Derry’s turn to strike the woodwork, Ryan Curran exchanging a perfect one-two with Michael Duffy and then unleashing a thunderous shot which, much to the helpless McNulty’s relief, came down off the underside of the bar and bounced out rather than in.
After that, the game rather fell flat, Cork containing Derry without too much fuss and eventually easing to their victory, much to the satisfaction of the vast majority in a crowd of 2,907.
CORK CITY: McNulty, Dunleavy, Murray, D Dennehy, Davoren, Lenihan, B Dennehy, Healy, G Morrissey, Kearney (Buckley 79), O’Sullivan.
DERRY CITY: Doherty, S McEleney (T McNamee 79), Byrne, McBride, Barry, Ventre, Molloy, B McNamee, Curran (Boyle 74), P McEleney, Duffy.
Referee: R Rodgers (Dublin).