Cork City 3 Finn Harps 1
After drawing the previous three league games, Cork City got their title challenge back on track with a facile victory over Finn Harps at Turner’s Cross last night.
Eager to pick up a much needed three points, John Caulfield’s outfit flew out of the traps and were two goals to the good inside the opening seven minutes and never looked back from there as they strolled to victory over a disappointing Harps side.
After a confidence boosting 1-0 win over champions Dundalk last month, Cork were really expected to push on and challenge for the title.
But the three draws in-a-row left Stephen Kenny’s side seven points ahead of John Caulfield’s side going into last night’s game, so it was imperative the home side picked up all three points ahead of Monday night’s game with Shamrock Rovers.
Caulfield made wholesale changes for the 7-0 EA Sports Cup demolition of Waterford United on Monday night and he made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Galway United in their last league game.
Ian Turner, Karl Sheppard and the injured Eoghan O’Connell replaced by Kevin O’Connor, Gearóid Morrissey and Sean Maguire.
A much changed Finn Harps side exited the EA Sports cup on penalties to Galway United during the week but they made the long trip south only two points behind the home side.
Manager Ollie Horgan made two changes to the side that were fortunate to defeat Bray Wanderers 1-0 at Finn Park in their last league game with Raymond Foy and Ethan Boyle coming in for Tony McNamee and the injured Keith Cowan.
City were given the perfect start in rather fortuitous circumstances inside the opening two minutes when Gearóid Morrissey’s shot from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection off Packie Mailey and wrong-footed keeper Richard Brush to end up in the back of the net.
Five minutes later, it was two and already game over when Sean Maguire headed home Stephen Dooley’s corner for his fifth goal of the season.
As if being 2-0 down inside the opening seven minutes wasn’t bad enough, the Donegal side’s plight was made all the more difficult when they lost both Foy and Adam Hanlon to injury inside the opening 25 minutes.
The early goals knocked the stuffing out of Harps and killed the game as a contest and City strolled through the remainder of the first-half with Dooley coming closest to increasing their lead but Brush made a good stop with his legs.
With the game lacking intensity, Caulfield introduced Sheppard for Dooley early in the second-half as the home side went in search of more goals in front of the Shed End.
City were reduced to 10 men when Kenny Browne needlessly got himself sent off after an altercation with Dave Scully and the centre back will now miss Monday night’s game against Rovers.
Harps were almost gifted a way back into the game in the 70th minute when Dave Scully’s harmless looking cross wasn’t dealt with by Alan Bennett and Mark McNulty had to make a good save.
The third eventually arrived 15 minutes from time when Mailey made a hash of a header back to replacement keeper Ciaran Gallagher and Maguire pounced before squaring the ball for Sheppard to neatly side-foot home from just inside the box.
Ryan Curran did pull a consolation goal back for Harps eight minutes from time when he expertly shot home from a tight angle.
CORK CITY: McNulty, Dunleavy, Bennett, Browne, O’Connor, Beattie (Morrissey 77), Bolger, Buckley, G Morrissey, Dooley (Sheppard 58), Maguire (O’Sullivan 77).
FINN HARPS: Brush (Gallagher 62), Boyle, McNulty, P Mailey, Coll, Curran, Foy (McNamee 10), Houston, Harkin, Hanlon (Flatley 25), Scully.
Referee: P Sutton (Clare).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved