Cork City 3 St Patrick’s Athletic 1: Cork City showed that they won’t go down in this title race without a fight as they moved to within five points of champions Dundalk at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after a comfortable victory over St Patrick’s Athletic at Turner’s Cross last night.
Stephen Kenny’s champions can widen the gap to eight points again tonight with a win over Shamrock Rovers but Cork will hope any dropped points may set the nerves jangling at Oriel Park for the run-in and the teams have to meet again at Turner’s Cross.
This one was over inside the opening 27 minutes when City scored twice to knock the stuffing out of a soft centred St Pat’s, who went down 4-0 in the FAI Cup at the same venue only 10 days ago.
Cork were without the suspended duo of Dan Murray and Steven Beattie, which meant a start for Billy Dennehy after his two goals in his last two substitute appearances. Billy’s brother Darren also started his first game after a long injury lay-off, with Kevin O’Connor also replacing the injured Liam Miller as boss John Caulfield was forced into making three changes to the side that narrowly defeated Galway United at the same venue on Friday night.
Pat’s boss Liam Buckley also made three changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Derry City at Inchicore on Friday with Jason McGuinness, Jamie McGrath and Shane MeEleney coming in for Sean Hoare, Greg Bolger and Aaron Greene.
In an eventful opening to the game, Mark O’Sullivan should have opened the scoring in the first minute when Karl Sheppard got in behind the sleeping St Pat’s defence before squaring the ball to O’Sullivan but the striker couldn’t beat Brendan Clarke, who saved well with his legs.
Ross Gaynor came to the home side’s rescue in the 12th minute when he made a magnificent block to deny Conan Byrne’s follow up effort after Mark McNulty had parried Morgan Langley’s fiercely struck shot.
The home side hit the front midway through the first-half when Colin Healy picked out Billy Dennehy on the right with a lovely first time ball after Pat’s could only half clear a corner kick. Dennehy whipped in an inviting cross which wasn’t dealt with by Clarke and there was Alan Bennett to volley home unmarked at the back post.
It was just about what City deserved as they did look the brighter of the two sides in the opening half and Buckley would have been fearing a repeat of the cup defeat when his side fell further behind seven minutes later.
It was more shocking defending from the visitors when they left O’Sullivan take down a Michael McSweeney throw in before the striker waltzed into the box before teeing up O’Connor to side-foot home his first goal for the club.
The visitors did start the second- half on the front foot and were unlucky not to pull one back almost immediately when Jamie McGrath’s shot was taken off the line by his own player Lee Desmond.
Darren Dennehy marked his return with the third in the 59th minute when he headed home Garry Buckley’s corner before Langley did manage to pull one back six minutes later with a header from a Ger O’Brien cross.
McNulty; McSweeney, Bennett, D Dennehy, Gaynor; Sheppard, O’Connor (Coleman 90), Healy (Kearney 45), Buckley, B Dennehy (O’Flynn 82); O’Sullivan.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC:
Clarke; O’Brien, McGuinness, Desmond, Bermingham; Byrne, Chambers, McEleney (Bolger 42), Verdon (Markey 75) Langley; McGrath,
N Doyle (Dublin)
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