This was a night of firsts in the league at Turner’s Cross this season — the first home goals and the first home win for Cork City as well as a first defeat for Bohemians.
Conor McCarthy in the first half and Dan Casey in the second got themselves on the scoresheet but this was a proper team effort by City who, having found their shooting boots up in Ballybofey, could take added satisfaction in keeping a clean sheet to cap off what was undoubtedly their most complete performance of the season so far.
In his programme notes for the game, John Caulfield praised the attendance of Mick McCarthy and his coaching staff at recent League of Ireland matches but also expressed his disappointment that, while the lower leagues in England were represented, no home-based player had made it into even the manager’s provisional squad for the upcoming Euros qualifiers.
On a more upbeat note, the City boss welcomed the boost for the domestic game of the massive social media reaction to Gearoid Morrissey’s superb brace in the 4-3 win against Finn Harps last week, the first of which — spectacular in both its construction and execution — is surely a credible Puskas contender. And, more immediately, after the programme requested footage of the goal from the club, looking set for a starring role on ‘Soccer AM’.
Fresh from his own television appearance on Countdown, Bohs striker Dinny Corcoran returned from injury to Keith Long’s team — but, as it turned out, couldn’t spell trouble on the night for Cork — as also did Keith Buckley. Barring Graham Cummins getting the nod to start ahead of Dan Smith, City were otherwise unchanged from the team which had beaten Harps
On a sodden surface and amid persistent drizzle and a swirling wind, there was plenty of endeavour and no shortage of sliding challenges in the game’s opening phase, with the first big goal chance coming the way of the home side in the 17th minute when, after a trademark weaving run, Daire O’Connor saw his low drive deflected off James Finnerty before being pushed around the post by keeper James Talbot.
Then, at the other end, Danny Mandroiu had the visitors’ first clear sight of the target but, from a central position, he couldn’t keep his shot down and the ball sailed over Mark McNulty’s crossbar.
It was in the 23rd minute that City took the lead, Conor McCarthy breaking the team’s home duck and scoring for the second week in a row when he rose highest in a crowded box to head home an O’Connor corner, after Shane Griffin’s galloping run down the left flank had initially won the set-piece.
But City would suffer a blow coming up to half-time as O’Connor, in evident pain, was forced out of the action with what looked to be a dislocated shoulder, James Tilley taking his place. And, as if to rub salt into the home side’s wound, in almost the last action of the first half, Cummins had a superb header into the top corner ruled out for offside.
But the City faithful making up most of the 3,016 crowd only had to wait five minutes into the second half to celebrate a legitimate goal. Substitute Tilley was floored in a challenge and, after he rolled the free-kick sideways, Dan Casey struck a swerving shot from 25 yards which deceived Talbot in the Bohs goal to find the middle of the net.
The visitors dominated possession for long spells after that but, with Conor McCormack outstanding in breaking up the play, Garry Buckley also hugely impressive in midfield and a disciplined defence holding firm, Mark McNulty ended up having a quiet night in front of the Shed End, as City made it back to back wins to go fourth in the table and, after a stuttering start, get their season well and truly up and running.
Cork City: McNulty, Horgan, Casey, McCarthy, Griffin, McCormack, Buckley, Morrissey (Comerford 90), D O’Connor (Tilley 43), Sheppard (K O’Connor 90), Cummins.
Bohemians: Talbot, Pender, Cornwall, Finnerty, Leahy, Levingston, Buckley (McCourt 76), Grant (Wade-Slater 58), Mandriou (Swan 66), Ward, Corcoran.
Referee: Robert Hennessey (Clare)