Unforgivably for Cork City, who had to play the second half with 10 men, all three goals came from free-kicks pumped into the box, but there could be no denying the clinical nature in which they were finished off.
This is a derby which hasn’t been given much opportunity to flourish, due to the infrequency of their meetings.
Yet despite the Limerick players’ joyous jig towards the travelling support at full-time, their manager Stuart Taylor played down the result which moves the Shannonsiders into fifth.
“We’re not going to be shouting off the rooftops after a win like this. We just want to be mixing it with the top sides, and for us at the moment it’s about our performances as much as the results,” he said.
Cork City boss Tommy Dunne, on the other hand, was once again left to rue his team’s ineptitude at the back.
“We’re conceding criminal goals, I’m sick of these stupid mistakes. We couldn’t defend basic free-kicks, two from the left and one from the right. It’s sounding like a broken record at this stage.”
Denis Behan, with a point to prove after being let go by Limerick at the end of last season, gave City the lead after 13 minutes. Gearóid Morrissey had played a ball towards the big striker and after Aaron Brown made a mess of his clearance, Behan raced clear and he made no mistake from 10 yards.
Brown, however, redeemed himself on 27 minutes by regaining parity with a powerful header from an O’Leary free-kick on the left. There were questions over City’s defending, but, incredibly, they conceded a carbon copy two minutes later. O’Leary once again struck a dead ball in from the left and this time it was Axel Bossekota who rose to send the visitors into the lead.
Cork’s task was made all the more difficult four minutes before the break when Darren Dennehy was shown a straight red for a challenge on Shaun Kelly near halfway. There was no malice, but his studs were certainly shown, even if Dunne said it was “a bit harsh, because I thought he got the ball”. Taylor, on the other hand, “didn’t see it”, but added that Kelly “had an ice-pack wrapped around his foot” at full-time.
The decision, if anything, spurred City on and they made it 2-2 thanks to Shane Duggan on 56 minutes; the midfielder heading home from six yards after the tireless Danny Morrissey cushioned the ball back to him.
Blues skipper Joe Gamble, who had a fascinating battle with Colin Healy in centre-field, was then denied by a magnificent save from McNulty on the hour mark, before the keeper was caught all at sea for what was the decisive goal 17 minutes from time.
Shane Tracy fizzed in the free-kick and the ball broke to O’Leary, with McNulty in no man’s land, leaving the 20-year-old with the simple task of slotting into the net.
City could have nicked a point with three minutes to go through Danny Furlong but with only Barry Ryan to beat, the substitute drove narrowly over.
CORK CITY: McNulty; N Horgan, Dennehy, D Murray, Murphy; G Morrissey, Duggan, Healy, D Horgan (Turner 81); D Morrissey (Furlong 77), Behan (Spillane 42).
LIMERICK: Ryan; Kelly, Brown, Folan, Williams; Galbraith, O’Leary (Judge 80), Gamble, Tracy, Bossekota (Rainsford 90); Curran.
Referee: P McLaughlin (Donegal).