Kieran Sadlier rescued this FAI Cup semi-final and possibly even the whole season for Cork City with an 87th-minute penalty which, in cancelling out a Dinny Corcoran goal for Bohemians, means these two sides will have to meet again in Turner’s Cross tonight week for the right to play Dundalk in the 2018 final.
Sadlier’s spot-kick came after a Darragh Leahy challenge on Conor McCarthy which firmly divided opinion between the rival camps.
It looked like a reckless challenge and the lad has a serious gash down the side of his foot to his ankle,” said Cork City manager John Caulfield. “It was in the box so from our point of view there was no question that it was a penalty.
But Bohs boss Keith Long couldn’t have disagreed more.
“It wasn’t a penalty, it’s clear to me,” he said. “The action is to the ball and Darragh makes a clear connection with the ball. But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we are still one game away from a cup final at the Aviva. The important thing now is that we are not out, we’ve got another bite of the cherry next Monday.”
On that, at least, the two managers were in agreement.
“You’re one down in the cup semi-final, it looks like it’s gone from you, you’re away from home but you dig in, keep going, and that’s what we did,” said Caulfield.
“And you have to admire that. After a difficult three or four weeks, we go back to our own place, a full house of 7,000 people, and we’ll hopefully get our bodies back by then.”
The City manager also revealed after last night’s match that he has received just a one-match ban for his involvement in the tunnel incident in the game against Dundalk at Turner’s Cross last week, a sanction which means he will have to sit out next Friday’s visit to Shamrock Rovers but will be back in the dug out for the replay against Bohs.
Yesterday, it was City who were quickest out of the blocks and applying early pressure to the Bohs goal before Kevin Devaney spurned the first chance for the home side with a header wide, followed almost immediately by an identical outcome at the other end as Kieran Sadlier, getting on the end of a Karl Sheppard cross, couldn’t direct his own header on target.
But the first really clear-cut chance of the game came Bohs’ way just short of the half hour mark with City ‘keeper Mark McNulty doing well to get his angles right and deny Keith Ward.
It was one of those scrappy, edgy games which looked like it would take either a major mistake or a moment of magic to break the deadlock and, right on the stroke of half-time, Kevin Devaney almost delivered in a spectacular style for Bohs, surging forward from midfield before letting fly with a shot from fully 30 yards out which thumped off McNulty’s right-hand post.
There was another big reprieve for City right after the restart as Bohs resumed firmly on the front foot, Daniel Kelly shooting tamely at McNulty with the goal at his mercy, before the Cork ‘keeper was called into action again, this time saving well with his feet to prevent the hugely impressive Devaney from opening the scoring.
And it was Bohs who deservedly took the lead in the 69th minute, Dinny Corcoran with a virtual tap-in from Devaney’s driven ball across the face of the Cork goal to send the majority in a crowd of 3,207 crowd into raptures.
A fine save down on his goal line by Shane Supple to hold a Cummins header kept Bohs’ lead intact as City finally awoke from their second-half slumber. A Sheppard volley through a crowded box then crept just wide of the keepers’ far post as the visitors piled on the pressure.
But just when the Bohs faithful were getting ready to acclaim a famous victory came the game’s late moment of controversy, with Darragh Leahy’s wild lunge taking down Conor McCarthy in the box. And, ignoring the loud protests of the home players and support who insisted the defender had got the ball — though, regardless, it has to be said that Leahy’s challenge still looked out of control — a cool Kieran Sadlier stepped up to emphatically convert the penalty and send this Cup semi-final to a replay in Cork next week.
Supple, Pender, Casey, Morris, Leahy, Kelly (Grant 91), Buckley, Lunney, Ward (Byrne 76), Devaney, Corcoran.
: McNulty, Beattie (McCarthy 65), McLoughlin, Bennett, Griffin, Morrissey (McNamee 74), Keohane, Sadlier, Buckley, Sheppard, Coughlan (Cummins 56).
: Rob Rogers (Dublin)