CORK CITY 4 - LIMERICK 1: Another swashbuckling display from Cork City and Sean Maguire saw the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders make it 17 wins from 18 matches as they defeated Limerick for the third time this season in last night’s hugely entertaining Munster derby at Turner’s Cross.
The rest of the league were hoping the mid-season break may halt John Caulfield’s side’s momentum but judging by this display, that is not going to happen as City looked hungry throughout, seemingly scoring for fun.
“It was a very good week for the boys. It’s good to keep the momentum going after the short break,” Maguire told eir after the game. “It’s the best feeling in the world coming out at Turner’s Cross, and young kids screaming your name. It’s going to be hard leaving this club. It will be emotional leaving this club.”
What they are going to do without Preston-bound Maguire, who grabbed his 17th and 18th league goals of the season last night, is another matter but you can’t see it making much of a difference to these players Caulfield has playing out of their skin.
Ryan Delaney was forced off with an ankle injury in Monday night’s Munster Senior Cup final victory over Wilton United. His place went to Garry Buckley, which meant Johnny Dunleavy partnered Alan Bennett in central defence as Caulfield made only the one change to the side that dismantled Dundalk last time out.
Chiedozie Ogbene, fresh from scoring a brace in Limerick’s 5-3 win over Bray Wanderers before the break, was returning to Turner’s Cross for the first time since leaving at the end of last season. And Limerick boss Neil McDonald had captain and former City player Shane Duggan returning to the side after missing out against Bray through injury.
The league leaders attacked from the off in the sunshine and Conor McCormack was unlucky to see his rasping effort whistle past Brendan Clarke’s post early on as City looked to pick up where they had left off before the break.
Geordie McDonald, who played for clubs including Newcastle United, Everton, and Oldham, didn’t come to defend and he went with two up front in a bid to unsettle the home side. Striker Ogbene had a chance when he turned and swivelled inside the six-yard box following a corner but Mark McNulty got down well at his near post to save.
After an exciting opening, the game was only short a goal and it duly arrived in the 24th minute from who else but that man Maguire. The red-hot striker played a first-time pass to Karl Sheppard inside the centre circle before sprinting into the box where Sheppard found him with a lovely flighted cross and Maguire rose highest to plant his header past Clarke.
It was no more than City deserved but they inexplicably left Limerick right back into the game within a minute of scoring when Ogbene caught the City defence napping before racing clear, only to be upended by Mark McNulty in the box.
Referee Robert Rogers had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Brazilian striker Rodrigo Tosi gave the keeper no chance.
Indeed McNulty could count himself lucky not to have been sent off as he was the last man as Ogbene looked certain to score.
The goal didn’t affect City though and McCormack had another effort saved before Buckley should have restored the lead when he met Jimmy Keohane’s cross but could only put his header straight at Clark, who pushed the ball over the bar from point blank range.
Bennett then headed inches wide from a corner kick before the impressive Stephen Dooley put the home side back in front a minute before the break when he jinked inside a couple of tackles before smashing a superb right-footed effort in off Clarke’s left hand post from the edge of the box.
Any notions Limerick had of getting something out of the game vanished within 20 seconds of the restart when Robbie Williams’ dreadful back-pass presented the ball straight to Maguire. The Kilkenny man doesn’t pass up those sort of chances — he took the ball around Clarke and stroked the ball home to put the game out of reach for the Shannonsiders.
Dunleavy was then carried off on a stretcher and City will be hoping the Donegal man, who has been dogged with injuries, isn’t facing another spell on the sidelines.
Credit to Limerick as they didn’t give up and Paul O’Connor missed a gilt-edged opportunity to give them some hope at least but he couldn’t find the net from Duggan’s cross in the 73rd minute.
Keohane wrapped up the scoring six minutes from time when he curled home a magnificent effort from 25 yards to send the majority of the 4,725 fans home happy yet again.
McNulty; Keohane, Dunleavy (Bolger 55), Bennett, O’Connor; Sheppard, Morrissey, McCormack, Buckley (O’Mahony 42), Dooley (Griffin 81); Maguire.
B Clarke; Williams, O’Connor, Whitehead (Coughlan 75); D Clarke, O’Conor, Lynch, Hery (Tracy 82), Duggan; Ogbene, Tosi.
R Rogers (Dublin)
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved