Garry Buckley made it three goals in two games as he got both for Cork City in last night’s Premier Division win over Limerick at Markets Field.
The midfielder, who scored the final goal in the 4-0 win over Bray Wanderers on Friday night, gave the champions a deserved lead six minutes into the second half here and then made sure of victory with a well-taken strike three minutes from the end of normal time, making it four games without defeat since losing to Shamrock Rovers three weeks ago.
With captain Conor McCormack unable to start after picking up an ankle injury late in the win over Bray, City brought in Steven Beattie on the right wing — skippering the side — as Barry McNamee moved to partner Jimmy Keohane in midfield.
That pair, and Buckley, allowed City to move the ball very well at times in the first half and Limerick needed a good Kilian Cantwell block on a Keohane shot in the third minute. Prior to that, Limerick captain Shane Duggan had had a sight of goal from a William Fitzgerald cross but he skewed his volleyed effort.
Soon after that, the visitors had a penalty shout as Graham Cummins looked to be pushed in the back as Buckley sent the ball across from the left after Colm Horgan’s delivery had glanced off the top of the crossbar, but the flag was up for offside.
On the back foot, Limerick weren’t overrun, with Conor Clifford playing an important role at the base of their midfield, starting attacks with good passes from deep, but City continued to create the majority of the chances.
Cummins headed narrowly over from a Sadlier corner from the left and then on 18 minutes, Sadlier was the source of another chance, a cross almost landing for Beattie, but, sliding in, his effort was wide.
A large factor in Limerick’s continued resistance was the performance of Cantwell in the heart of the defence, exemplified by his header to deny Seán McLoughlin reaching a McNamee corner, and his defensive partner Tony Whitehead was on hand to get a block on Keohane after Cummins cushioned a McLoughlin ball into his path.
On the half-hour, to Limerick’s chagrin, a challenge on Daniel Kearns went unpunished and City quickly countered, McLoughlin to Buckley to Beattie, but his deflected shot was taken by goalkeeper Brendan Clarke.
He was on hand again to save a Cummins header from a McNamee free kick and just before half-time, Buckley was well off-target when Horgan’s cross found him at the back post.
Limerick almost fashioned a good chance on the resumption. Sub Karl O’Sullivan, on for the injured Clifford at half-time, dispossessed Colm Horgan and tried to play Kearns in, but Horgan did well to recover and in any case the flag was up.
A minute later, City were ahead and it was a superbly taken goal. The move was started by a great diagonal ball from Conor McCarthy to Kieran Sadlier, and while the temptation might have been to sling a ball across the face of goal, he looked up and pulled it back to Buckley around the penalty spot, allowing him to side-foot home.
While not fully liberated by the goal, City were in a position of comfort. McLoughlin tried a low long-range effort which wasn’t too far away and Cummins was the beneficiary of another searching McCarthy pass, his shot from a tight angle whistling across goal.
Karl Sheppard, on for Beattie just after the goal, had a great chance to double the lead on 70 minutes when the ball came loose in the area — Buckley looked to have been tripped — but Clarke dived to fingertip the ball around the post.
That was one of a series of corners City forced and from another, delivered by Sadlier on 72 minutes, McCarthy rose to head the ball off the crossbar only to be penalised for a push on the back.
On 79 minutes, Limerick had their best chance of an equaliser, William Fitzgerald side-footing an effort wide from Billy Dennehy’s cross, while good Colm Horgan defending snuffed out a Karl O’Sullivan half-chance as time wound down.
Buckley was to make sure of the win on 87 minutes, curling home a superb effort from 25 yards after he picked up a loose ball. While Limerick forced a series of late corners, City had done enough.
Clarke; Kelly, Cantwell, Whitehead, B Dennehy; Clifford (K O’Sullivan half-time); Fitzgerald, Duggan, Coleman, Kearns (Walsh-O’Loghlen 55); M O’Sullivan.
McNulty; Horgan, McCarthy, McLoughlin, Griffin; McNamee, Keohane; Beattie (Sheppard 52), Buckley, Sadlier (Howard 88); Cummins (O’Hanlon 82).
S Grant (Wexford).
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