Having opened his account for the club against Dundalk in the President’s Cup last Saturday, Sean Maguire struck twice last night to give City a deserved victory against a Bohemians side who finished the game with 10 men at Turner’s Cross.
“They were two fox in the box finishes in a tight game,” said a delighted City boss John Caulfield afterwards.
“If he keeps working like that, he’ll score goals and that’s what we want.
“We hadn’t been anywhere near it in the first half but we got really stuck in in the second half and, once Seanie got a real poacher’s goal, we played much better.”
Maguire himself said: “I’d have taken three points and no goals for me before the game but to score two goals on my league debut down at the Shed end was a real bonus. I’m delighted.”
The result hadn’t looked at all inevitable after a poor first 45 from the home team but, in the end, a transformed second-half performance, inspired by Maguire’s brace, gave City the three points they craved on their first outing of the new league season.
For the opening night, the big kick-off took place in plunging temperatures and blustery conditions.
After a minute’s applause for the late Paul Bannon, it was time for lights, cameras, and action as the 2016 season at the Cross got under way in front of an RTÉ audience and 4,028 at the Cross.
After the perceived statement of intent represented by City’s 2-0 defeat of Dundalk in the President’s Cup, manager Caulfield understandably saw no reason to change his line-up, meaning that new signings Eoghan O’Connell, Kenny Browne, Greg Bolger, Stephen Dooley, and Sean Maguire, as well as the returning Gearoid Morrissey and Ian Turner, were all on from the start.
Of Bohs’ three new acquisitions — Ayman Ben Mohamed, Kurtis Byrne, and Mark Quigley — only Byrne made the starting XI, as Keith Long looked to last year’s breakthrough kid, Ismahil Akinade, to lead the line.
But, despite an early spell of pressure from the visitors, it was Cork who had the first clear sight of goal, Sean Maguire riding a hefty challenge before blasting a shot across the face of Dean Delany’s goal while, at the other end, it was clear the battle between Akinade and Browne would be one to watch throughout.
Indeed, it came as little surprise when, with just over 15 minutes gone, the defender was shown yellow for a late challenge on the tall striker. And later in the half, skipper John Dunleavy would follow suit for another foul on the same player.
Bohs’ energetic pressing was making it hard for City to play out from the back, let alone create a threat in the final third although Greg Bolger in the middle and Stephen Dooley out wide did their best to get the side’s creative juices flowing.
But that neither keeper had had a save of any consequence to make as the half-time whistle blew, pretty much said it all about a distinctly underwhelming first half.
But, now playing into the Shed end, there was fresh urgency about City from the start of the second period, and they only had to wait until the 53rd minute to claim the breakthrough, Maguire capitalising on hesitancy in the Bohs defence to sneak in at the near post and, from a tight angle, hook a lobbed ball from O’Connell past Delany.
And, 10 minutes later, it was Maguire again, again getting the better of centre-half Anto Murphy to pounce on a long ball from Kenny Browne and score from an even tighter angle, in off the far post.
A bad night for Bohemians was capped when Roberto Lopes saw red with just under 10 minutes remaining, as he received a second yellow for a late tackle on Stephen Dooley.
McNulty, O’Connell, Browne, Bennett, Dunleavy, Bolger, Morrissey, Dooley (Healy 85), Holohan (Beattie 68), Turner (Sheppard 75), Maguire
Delaney, Pender, Prendergast, Murphy (Wearen 74), Fitzgerald, Kavanagh, Buckley, Lopes, Kelly (Quigley 67), Byrne, Akinade (Byrne 85).
Neil Doyle (Dubin)