Rovers on the rampage as five-star Burke sinks Cork City

It was a night of undiluted misery for the visitors who suffered their worst-ever League defeat.

Rovers on the rampage as five-star Burke sinks Cork City

Shamrock Rovers 6 Cork City 0

With Graham Burke bagging a famous five goals, Shamrock Rovers made it back to back Premier Division wins with this embarrassingly easy victory over a Cork City side who were already two goals behind when, on the stroke of half-time, any hope of the visitors mounting an unlikely comeback was removed with the sending off of Deshane Dalling on what was his full debut for the Rebels.

Instead, the roof caved in on City in the second half, as another three from the rampant Burke and a goal by Jack Byrne made it a freewheeling occasion for the Hoops and a night of undiluted misery for the visitors who suffered their worst-ever League defeat.

In their opening game of the Premier Division season against Shelbourne at Turner’s Cross last Friday, which City lost 0-1 to a late Ciaran Kilduff goal, the home side fielded no less than eight debutants, with Gearoid Morrissey the sole survivor from the 2017 double-winning side and Ronan Hurley and Daire O’Connor the only other players with previous first team appearances for City under their belts.

Friday night’s starting IX showed two changes from the Shels game, with QPR loanee Dalling and the club’s own Alec Byrne — both of whom had seen action off the bench last week — starting in place of Reyon Dillon and Cian Coleman respectively.

Rovers, for their part, are clearly very much closer to the finished product and, on foot of their opening 0-1 win against Bohemians at Dalymount Park, the settled nature of Stephen Bradley’s team was reflected in just the one change against City, with former UCD winger Neil Farrugia in for Danny Lafferty, Having overcome Storm Dennis as well as Bohs last Saturday, the Hoops were obliged to play host to another typical night in Irish football’s summer season, with a swirling wind and sheeting rain lashing Tallaght Stadium.

After impressing on his debut against Shels, City’s Arsenal loanee Joseph Olowu had a few nervy moments at the back in the opening exchanges, from which Farrugia might well have profited. But with the City front three quick to close down their opponents, it was a mistake at the other end which provided the game’s first clear sight of goal when, after robbing a dawdling Aaron McEneff, Deshane opted to shoot early and succeeded only in ballooning his effort high over Alan Mannus’s crossbar, when he might have better advised to continue his run into the box.

With Jack Byrne, inevitably, pulling the strings — incisive passes struck with the outside of his boot a speciality— Rovers were soon dominating forcing the red shirts to defend in numbers. But it was hardly all one-way traffic, Dylan McGlade twisting and turning and then forcing Mannus into tipping his fierce drive over the top in the 23rd minute, as City looked lively on the counter-attack.

But it was Rovers who took the lead nine minutes later and, unfortunately for Olowu, it was his error which presented the ball to Graham Burke who required no second invitation to arrow a low left-footed shot to the corner of Liam Bossin’s net.

Only a fine finger-tip save from the City ‘keeper then denied the all-action Farrugia but the reprieve was short-lived as, from close-range, Burke claimed his and Rovers’ second three minutes before the break.

And, with the half-time whistle almost ready to blow, an already difficult night became much worse for City, as Dalling was shown a straight red by referee Sean Grant for what looked like a reckless challenge on the sliding Roberto Lopes.

With the weather deteriorating, the second half was set to be a long 45 minutes of damage limitation for 10-man Cork, Jack Byrne’s deflected effort straight after the restart a sign of the sustained pressure to come.

With Rovers now thoroughly bossing the ball, Byrne got himself on the scoresheet just short of the hour mark, his shot carrying enough power to get over the line despite Bossin getting a strong hand to the Irish international’s effort.

With thirty minutes remaining, the only question at this point was how many more the rampant Hoops might add to their tally. Bossin and his defence — which was by now pretty much the entire City team — did their best to hold back the tide but they were undone again in the 74th minute when Burke claimed his hat-trick with a picture-postcard finish.

And he wasn’t finished yet, the striker grabbing two more before the end to make it a night to remember for him and one to forget for City. And things aren’t about to get any easier for Fenn’s fledglings: next up it’s champions Dundalk away on Monday.

CORK CITY: Bossin, Stabana, Olowu, Redmond, Hurley, Morrissey, Ochieng, Byrne (Fleming 66), O’Connor (Dillon 45), McGlade (Slevin 71), Dalling

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O’Brien (Scales 45) , Lopes, Grace, Farrugia, O’Neill; Finn, Byrne, McEneff (Watts 61), Burke Greene (Watts 66).

Referee: Sean Grant (Wexford)

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