Cork City suffered their first defeat under interim manager John Cotter as Premier Division leaders Dundalk took the points at Turner’s Cross.
Goals early in each half were sufficient for the champions to extend their winning run over City to six games, with Vinny Perth’s side more clinical.
City had just one injury-enforced change from last week’s win over UCD, with Dan Casey unable to start in defence and Gary Boylan coming in for just his second league start as Conor McCarthy moved inside to partner Seán McLoughlin.
In front of a crowd of 3,334, the home side began brightly but without creating anything of note. They fell behind inside nine minutes as Dundalk’s first real attack yielded joy. When a cross was cleared by Seán McLoughlin as far as Patrick McEleney 25 yards out, his curling effort didn’t look too troublesome but Mark McNulty was unable to hold the ball and Dean Jarvis finished from close range.
Despite the setback, City responded well and a James Tilley corner might have brought the equaliser but nobody was able to get a touch as it drifted across goal. At the other end, Seán Murray did well and got a cross in but it was just too high for Michael Duffy.
Tilley, able to make space for himself, tried to test Gary Rogers with a shot from distance but it was easy for the netminder and then, just after the half-hour, Dundalk had a great chance to double their lead. After a sustained spell of pressure, Garry Comerford’s challenge on Murray was deemed illegal by referee Rob Rogers but, having had to re-place the ball on the spot, Patrick Hoban’s penalty kick came back off the post.
Thereafter, City had the better of the first-half. Dáire O’Connor’s cross from the right was met by Cummins but he headed over. Two minutes after that, Comerford’s ball put Cummins in but Rogers was quick off his line to bravely save.
Murray had an effort from outside the area which McNulty saved just before the half-time break and it was Dundalk asking the questions on the resumption, too. An early McEleney shot was on target but Conor McCormack got his head in the way, however the Lilywhites didn’t have to wait too long for a second goal.
When McEleney was allowed time on the ball, he picked out a fine pass to Seán Gannon on the right and his cross was perfect for Mountney to head past McNulty.
A two-goal lead didn’t sate Vinny Perth’s side either as Hoban had a shot deflected and Mountney drew a save from McNulty after good work by Hoban and Duffy.
Tilley twice went close to pulling one back for City but, though Dundalk lost Mountney to a second yellow card in the closing stages, it was the visitors’ night.
Shamrock Rovers still trail Dundalk on goal difference alone, following their 1-0 win away to UCD.
Bohemians are now six adrift of the top-two, but ended a run of back-to-back defeats with a 1-1 draw at St. Pat's.
Sean Boyd scored a dramatic winner for Finn Harps who beat Waterford 3-2 to move off the foot of the table.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Boylan, McCarthy, McLoughlin, Comerford; McCormack, K O’Connor; D O’Connor (Rainsford 81), Tilley, Sheppard; Cummins (Crowley 75).
DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Cleary, Jarvis; Murray (Flores 70), Shields, McEleney (Massey 89); Mountney, Hoban (G Kelly 82), Duffy.
Referee: R Rogers (Dublin).