Cork City 2 Galway United 1: A commanding second-half performance saw Cork City come from behind and start the post-Maguire-and-O’Connor era off in the best possible fashion as they moved ever closer to a first SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title since 2005 at Turner’s Cross last night.
Things didn’t look to be going to plan following a dreadful first-half performance but once man-of-the-match Garry Buckley fired in the equaliser shortly after the break, there was only going to be one winner as John Caulfield’s side showed their mettle to move 18 points clear at the top.
It was hard on Galway, who were excellent in the first half and could have grabbed a point right at the death, but the relegation battlers were no match for a rampant home side in the second half as City looked like the team they have been all season.
Caulfield predictably started with Karl Sheppard up front in place of Sean Maguire, with Shane Griffin slotting into Kevin O’Connor’s left back slot.
Galway are the only side to have taken points off Cork City this season, and, after claiming back-to-back league victories for the first time this season, Shane Keegan’s outfit arrived in Cork full of confidence.
They were even more confident when they hit the front within six minutes. City old boy Gavan Holohan grabbed a hat-trick in last week’s 4-1 drubbing of Drogheda and the midfielder picked up where he left off last week when he skilfully controlled a headed clearance on his chest before crashing a left-footed shot into the far corner of Mark McNulty’s net from the edge of the box.
It was the ideal start for Keegan’s side and it should have got better two minutes later when Padraic Cunningham had a great chance following some sloppy defending, but this time McNulty got down well to save at his near post.
New signing from Limerick Robbie Williams wasn’t eligible for this one having only signed yesterday — he couldn’t have been impressed with his new side’s lacklustre start. Indeed it took City 25 minutes to muster their first effort on goal when Steven Beattie’s long-range effort flew over Conor Winn’s crossbar.
The home side had a great chance to equalise a few minutes later when Sadlier caught the Galway defence napping, but Stephen Dooley’s heavy first touch let him down as Winn came racing off his line.
Caulfield introduced Achille Campion at half-time as he looked for a way back into the game but his side seemed to be in even bigger trouble when Ronan Murray looked to have scored, but he was correctly judged to have punched the ball into the net from Devaney’s cross.
City needed a bit of magic to spark them to life and Buckley duly came up with the goods eight minutes in when he picked the ball up 25 yards out and rifled a right-footed effort low into the bottom corner of Winn’s net.
The goal brought the subdued Shed End to their feet and Dooley had a shot saved by Winn before the Galway keeper pulled off a great save to keep out Buckley’s header from a superb Beattie cross.
It was all City now and the winner arrived midway through the half when Sheppard glanced Morrissey’s cross past Winn, who was caught in no man’s land, and the unfortunate Lee Grace chested the ball into his own net.
Sheppard should have made it three two minutes from time but dragged his shot wide when one on one with Winn.
Grace almost made up for his own goal in injury time but agonisingly saw his header come back off the butt of a post.
McNulty, Beattie (Ellis 88), Delaney, Bennett, Griffin, Sadlier (Campion 45), Morrissey, Buckley, McCormack, Dooley (McCarthy 82), Sheppard.
Winn, Horgan, Grace, Folan, Devaney, Byrne (Manning 85), Holohan, Cawley, Ludden, Cunningham (McCormack 65), Murray.
S Grant (Wexford)
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