Cork City 0 Derry City 0: Cork City dropped two valuable points in their bid to finish second in the Airtricity League Premier Division as Derry City earned a well-deserved point at Turners Cross last night to ease their relegation fears.
With the league title now looking beyond their grasp barring a remarkable and unlikely Dundalk collapse, Cork’s best hope of silverware is the FAI Cup, where they meet Bray Wanderers in Sunday week’s semi-final.
Cork boss John Caulfield will be hoping striker Mark O’Sullivan, nursing an ankle injury, recovers for that game as his side lacked potency in front of goal last night.
Derry on the other hand were full value for their point and caretaker boss Paul Hegarty continued his good start as Derry boss after starting with a win over Shamrock Rovers last week.
O’Sullivan’s place in the side last night went to John O’Flynn, who scored after being introduced against the same opposition in the cup quarter-final replay last time out, and Alan Bennett came in for Darren Dennehy as City made two changes to the side that won 3-0.
Hegarty was forced into making three changes to the side that defeated Rovers. Goalkeeper Gerard Doherty, and the skilful Patrick McEleney were ruled out through injury and they were replaced by Shaun Patton and Barry McNamee – with the on-loan Rob Cornwall also coming back for Philip Lowry as he was not allowed play last week against his parent club.
It was the sides’ third meeting in two weeks and in a bright opening to the game, Derry had the first chance in the 5th minute when Conor McCormack’s shot was well stopped by Mark McNulty.
O’Flynn had a great chance to open the scoring four minutes later when Aaron Barry gifted the ball to Billy Dennehy, who in turn played in O’Flynn but the Cork striker’s first touch was very poor and Ryan McBride got back to clear the danger.
Ben McLaughlin then made a great block to deny Dennehy before Alan Bennett had to come to his side’s rescue when blocking Ciaran O’Connor’s effort from a Stephen Dooley cross as the game flowed from end to end.
O’Connor, on loan from Dundalk, should have put the away side in front midway through the half but he dragged his shot wide when one on one with McNulty after another Derry breakaway.
Garry Buckley headed wide on the half hour mark from Ross Gaynor’s cross but that was as close as either side got as the first half petered out.
O’Flynn missed another gilt-edged chance five minutes into the second period when could only head Gaynor’s pin-point cross straight at Patton.
That was O’Flynn’s last chance as he was replaced by Steven Beattie soon after, with Karl Sheppard moving into the striker’s role in a bid to break down the well-organised Derry defence.
Dennehy blazed horribly wide 10 minutes from the end when he should have crossed with Sheppard and Buckley in the box before McNulty made a magnificent save to keep out substitute Cillian Morrison’s header and Bennett blocked O’Connor’s follow up.
Substitute Danny Morrissey should have won it right at the death but he headed Beattie’s cross wide with the goal at his mercy.
McNulty; McSweeney, Bennett, Murray (O’Connor 73), Gaynor; Sheppard (Morrissey 86), Buckley, Dunleavy, Miller, B Dennehy; O’Flynn (Beattie 65).
Patton; McLaughlin (McEneff 54), McBride, Barry, Jarvis; Timlin (Morrison 69), McNamee, McCormack, Cornwall, Dooley; O’Connor (Quigley 90).
Tomas Connolly (Dublin).
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