City reach safety at last after ending home hoodoo

Cork City finally preserved their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division status after a highly entertaining 3-2 win over a gutsy UCD side at Turners Cross tonight.

City reach safety at last after ending home hoodoo

[team1]Cork City[/team1][score1]3[/score1][team2]UCD[/team2][score2]2[/score2][/score]

By Dave Ludzik

Cork City finally preserved their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division status after a highly entertaining 3-2 win over a gutsy UCD side at Turners Cross tonight.

It was City’s first league victory at home since May 10, but they were made to work hard for the win by a committed UCD side, who were unlucky not to earn a point right at the death, when substitute Danu Kinsella-Bishop hit the post.

It was new manager Neale Fenn’s first win since taking over the hot seat and after confirming that there will be major personnel changes next season, at least Fenn can now rebuild and write this dire season off.

The fans will be equally glad to see the back of this season, as it has been truly dreadful for a club of City’s stature, and they’ll be hoping Fenn can bring the good times back to Turners Cross after growing accustomed to success under former boss John Caufield.

Fenn had youngster Béineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh starting up front as he looked for some way to add to City’s measly return of 25 league goals going into the game. However, the City strikers have been starved of any quality service all season, and that continued last night as O’Brien-Whitmarsh cut an isolated figure up top for much of the first half.

Conor McCormack should have done better in the 28th minute when Karl Sheppard held the ball up well before neatly playing in the City number 8, who did well to burst from his right-back slot, but couldn’t keep the ball down when he should have at least tested Conor Kearns in the UCD goal.

City were beginning to look more threatening as the half wore on, and Kearns was beaten six minutes later when Morrissey played a delightful ball over the top for Sheppard to run on to. Sheppard was allowed stride forward before cutting inside and shooting low under Kearns, who will be disappointed not to have kept the shot out.

Morrissey went close minutes afterwards, but dragged his shot narrowly wide before Liam Kerrigan forced Ryan into another save low down as the first half ended on a high note.

O’Brien-Whitmarsh looked the part in the second half and had a good chance early in, but couldn’t finish despite beating the outrushing Kearns to the ball.

Ryan then came to his side’s rescue with a magnificent double save. First, he got a strong hand down to keep out Dara Keane’s shot from the edge of the box before making another great stop to deny Yoyo Mahdy burying the rebound.

It was a major let-off for Fenn’s side, who were guilty of switching off again seconds later when Ryan had to save again, this time from O’Farrell.

The second goal looked like proving crucial, and when O’Brien-Whitmarsh put Daire O’Connor through on goal just after the hour, O’Connor’s expert finish flew past Kearns to double City’s lead.

However, UCD were not going to throw in the towel, and Mahdy went close to pulling one back before Keane rose highest in the box to power home a header from Jason McClelland’s corner kick to put Tarnogrodzki’s side right back into it.

With City again looking nervous at the back, Ryan had to make another great stop to deny Keane from equalising before Conor McCarthy blocked Paul Doyle’s effort as City were beginning to lose their shape.

Their task was made easier when Kerrigan received his marching orders late on for a second bookable offence, and McCormack looked to have made sure of the points in the last minute when he drilled home expertly from inside the box.

There was still time for more drama however, as UCD pulled another one back when Jack Keaney scored from the spot after Kinsella-Bishop was upended in the box.

Then, agonisingly for UCD, Kinsella-Bishop thought he had equalised with the last kick of the game, but his effort came back off the butt of the post with Ryan beaten.

CORK CITY: Ryan, McCormack, McCarthy, Casey, Griffin (Horgan 81), Sheppard, Byrne, Morrissey, Coustrain (Stokes 75), D O’Connor, O’Brien-Whitmarsh.

UCD: Kearns; Dignam (Kinsella-Bishop 88), McEvoy, Boore (Farrell 27), Doyle, Kerrigan, O’Farrell, Keaney, Keane, McClelland, Mahdy (Byrne 82).

Referee: S Grant (Wexford).

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