First-half goals from Steven Beattie and Danny Morrissey at Richmond Park ultimately earned a first victory in five league games which moves Cork four points ahead of third-placed Shamrock Rovers.
A sixth defeat in eight games for St Patrick’s, however, means they’ve still not clinched fourth place and the coveted final Europa League spot.
While St Pat’s, playing their 1,000th game in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland, were unchanged from Friday‘s 2-1 win over Drogheda United, Cork made four switches to the side surprisingly beaten at Turner’s Cross the same night. With Dan Murray and Liam Miller suspended, and Billy Dennehy and Mark O’Sullivan on the bench, Alan Bennett and Ross Gaynor came into their defence with Kevin O’Connor on the left of midfield and Morrissey the lone striker.
Cork started positively with Garry Buckley having a sixth-minute shot. Though it didn’t trouble Conor O’Malley in the home goal, St Pat’s defence was at sixes-and-sevens from City’s first corner of the game on nine minutes as the visitors took the lead.
The unattended Dennehy nodded skipper John Dunleavy’s delivery back across goal where Gaynor got a touch before Beattie was on hand to tap home from close range.
That awoke a sluggish St Pat’s with Cork keeper Mark McNulty soon in action to get down well to save Killian Brennan’s free kick on 15 minutes.
On 23 minutes Cork doubled their lead with a delightful second goal. Karl Sheppard’s ball forward found the run of Morrissey whose first-time lob had just the right trajectory to loop over O’Malley and bounce into the net for a sublime finish.
In shades of scoring the winner in the FAI Cup semi-final at Bray Wanderers earlier in the month, however, Morrissey again appeared to strain a hamstring and had to go off immediately.
O’Connor brought a save from O’Malley with an angled drive minutes into the second half before St Pat’s owned the ball as they chased the game.
It was the 59th minute before Liam Buckley’s side threatened McNulty again when the keeper batted away McGrath’s shot from a tight angle.
With Cork generally defending solidly, St Pat’s didn’t get a goal back until the 89th minute when Greene raced through to drill low to the net.
O’Malley; Desmond, McEleney, Brennan (Bayly, 83), Bermingham; Chambers; Morris (Verdon, 83), Greene; Byrne (Hoare, 62), Fagan, McGrath.
McNulty; McSweeney, Bennett, D. Dennehy, Gaynor; Buckley (Kearney, 52), Dunleavy; Sheppard, Beattie (O‘Sullivan, 90), O‘Connor; Morrissey (O‘Flynn, 25).