WE KNOW about winning ugly but this was more a case of drawing ugly as neither Shamrock Rovers nor Cork City were able to live up to their reputations as sides who like to get the ball down and play.
Against the backdrop of the Dublin mountains, this was a largely flat affair enlivened by a touch of class from Colin Healy and a late and deserved comeback by the home side.
Cork boss Paul Doolin felt that a draw was probably a fair result but didn’t mince his words on the quality of the fare overall, especially during the first 45.
“In the first half it was a horrendous game of football,” he said. “There was nothing, absolutely nothing to the game. Second half, it probably livened up a bit but overall I didn’t think the game had a lot to offer.
“At half time we’d said it looked the kind of game that might be settled by a set-piece. When you go ahead you always hope that you can see out the game but what happened was that so many balls were coming in, we couldn’t get out of the box.
“There was no pattern to the game and we couldn’t get out but, having said that, we probably could have dealt with their goal a bit better.
“I still would have liked the three points but in any away game in the league, and particularly a place like here, it’s probably a decent point.
“But the fact that you are leading and you concede the type of goal we did is disappointing. The main thing is that’s three wins and a draw from four games and I think we’ve been good overall.”
The first half was indeed underwhelming with few chances created at either end. Rovers’ best moment came from their most threatening player, when Gary Twigg’s shot from nothing contained such a combination of surprise and power that Dan Connor’s one-handed save saw him knocked off his feet
Cork replied with an explosive effort of their own, Denis Behan striking a rasping free-kick from 30 yards which Robert Duggan could only parry though, luckily for the ‘keeper, no black shirt was on hand to take advantage of the loose ball.
Then, five minutes before the break, it was the little and large show as Hoops striker Dessie Baker got the better of Cork skipper Dan Murray but couldn’t get his close-range effort from an acute angle on target.
Half time came with the game badly in need of a goal but, just short of the hour mark, Billy Dennehy could only blast over at the end of a swift and promising Cork breakout from their own defence
But, finally, a succession of City corners and free-kicks bore fruit on 65 minutes when, after a clumsy challenge by Dessie Baker on the edge of the box, Healy’s precisely struck free beat Duggan at his near post.
Suddenly, a sleepy game had come to life and, moments later, Darragh Maguire’s shot through a crowded box was only inches over the angle of post and crossbar as the home side looked for an immediate response.
In the 75th minute, Rovers substitute Padraig Amond came even closer, his header coming back off the Cork cross bar as Rovers piled bodies into the box in search of an equaliser.
And they got it six minutes from the end, when Gary Twigg had the composure to pick his spot with a side-footed effort that crept inside the post after another spell of pinball in the Cork penalty area.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Duggan, Treacy, Maguire, Webb, Cahill, Robinson, Rice, Cameron (Purcell 79), O’ Connor (Amond 66), Baker, Twigg.
CORK CITY: Connor, Sullivan, Murray, O’Halloran, Murphy, O’Neill (Horgan 27), Healy, Gamble, Dennehy, Behan, Silagailis (Kiely 86).
Referee: Richie Winter.
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