Sean Maguire equalled Pat Morley’s record of 20 Premier Division goals in a season for Cork as he signed off domestic action in style before his move to Preston.
The striker scored once and provided the assist for the other as the runaway leaders powered past third-placed Bray at the Carlisle Grounds yesterday to open up a 15-point gap on defending champions Dundalk.
“I’m happy in one way to equal the club-record. But disappointed in another way to not beat it. The result is all that matters. We’re back to winning ways,” revealed Maguire.
City boss John Caulfield praised the 23-year-old front man who will play his last game for the Leesiders next Thursday against AEK Larnaca in the Europa League.
“He’s a goal short of the club record which is a bit unfortunate for him because before the game we were saying, if you get two today you’ll have the club record. It’ll keep Pat Morley happy for a while anyway! The thing you must remind Pat Morley is there’s still 11 games to go.”
Having made it nine top-flight wins in a row, Caulfield added: “It was a really good performance. We changed things up at times. I felt we tired but we still had four or five really good chances so overall we’re happy.”
After previous spells in England with West Ham United and Accrington Stanley, the Rebels manager is expecting Maguire to carry on his scoring exploits at Preston.
“You have to give him credit because there has been so much media speculation for five, six months and it’s never thrown him or knocked him off his stride. He’s just been so focused, so good at training and everything he’s got, he deserves. We wish him to go to the next step and be a fantastic goalscorer which I feel, if he’s given game time, it will happen for him.”
Kevin O’Connor, who also leaves for Preston after Thursday, wasn’t in the matchday squad.
Maguire started and finished the move for the opening goal in the 13th minute. He fed Karl Sheppard wide right with Steven Beattie whipping in a cross which was powerfully headed in by the forward 10 yards out.
Having been booked on the hour for simulation, Maguire was denied by the woodwork in the 63rd minute with sub Achille Campion’s follow-up tipped over superbly by Peter Cherrie.
Bray pressed the self-destruct button in the 86th minute. Skipper Conor Kenna’s miscue was pounced on by Maguire on the left flank. He drilled low across goal and the unmarked Jimmy Keohane tapped in to seal the points.
The Wicklow outfit were the last team to beat the Leesiders in Premier Division action, at the same venue back in October 2016.
But playing their first game after 16 days of confusion off the pitch concerning their financial future, the home club failed to attract the much-hoped biggest crowd of the season.
A reported official attendance of 1,879 came through the Carlisle Grounds turnstiles which was still smaller than the crowd of 2,225 which saw Bray beat Shamrock Rovers last April.
And manager Harry Kenny admitted he was stuck in the middle of the whole situation.
“The investment is there according to the directors of the club. The lads are just looking for a guarantee on that. I’m hoping that might materialise this week. I’m very optimistic. I’m told that it’s there. They (the directors) have been very good to me since I’ve come in and haven’t sent me up any garden path.”
Yet he conceded he could see the players’ point of view. “Of course, I can. Absolutely. It’s their livelihood. It’s like any job. If there’s uncertainty, you are going to be concerned. I’m with the players on that.”
Cherrie’; Buckley, Douglas, Kenna, Lynch; Salmon (Noone 71), Sullivan; Marks, McCabe, Brennan; Greene.
McNulty; Beattie, Bennett, Delaney, Griffin; McCormack, Buckley (Campion 60), Sheppard (Ellis 88), Keohane, Sadlier; Maguire (O’Mahony 90). Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).
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