Ronan Murray celebrates his second goal for Dundalk FC in the President's Cup game at Oriel Park. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Dundalk FC 2-4 Cork City
The chant of 'that's why we're champions' echoed around Oriel Park on Sunday afternoon as Stephen Kenny stood with his hands deep in his coat pockets. This Cork side are made of stern stuff and - yet again - Dundalk discovered it at their peril.
John Caulfield's side were 22/1 for the win at half-time as the Lilywhites led 2-0 through Ronan Murray's brace. In the wind and the snow, the hosts were excellent.
But, when conditions cleared up and Cork re-emerged, they played like a champion-outfit, scoring four second-half goals to run out exasperatingly comfortable victors for the third year in succession.
Defensive mix-ups provided the first three goals as the ball fell fortunately twice for Murray to slam home - on 19 and 40-minutes respectively - however, it was Cork's opener which acted as the catalyst for their dramatic comeback. Gary Rogers and Chris Shields got their wires crossed and Karl Sheppard - on at half-time to a chorus of boos - who nipped
Arguably the single biggest factor in the outcome was the injury sustained by Seán Hoare in the first-half which saw Shields - who was enjoying an excellent match in midfield - moved back to centre-half and Robbie Benson introduced to anchor the midfield. Neither defence or centre-field looked so assured thereafter.
The equaliser again saw Dundalk's defence caught badly as Barry McNamee - anonymous beforehand - sneak in to nod past Rogers and had Cummins been able to direct his header either side of Rogers moments later, the turnaround would have been completed well beforehand.
As it was, the Rebels went ahead through Kieran Sadlier's wonderful dipping effort from 30-yards before the winger turned supplier for Cummins to tap home for 4-2.
Oriel Park emptied with a murmur. All the hope generated from the terrific first-half performance, the individual brilliance of Jamie McGrath and Murray, the atmosphere; it all fell flat as the Rebels collected the silverware.
The match with Bray Wanderers on Friday night just can't come quick enough.
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Georgie Poynton, Seán Hoare (Robbie Benson 38), Stephen Folan, Dane Massey; Kristján Adorján (Patrick Hoban 67), Chris Shields, Jamie McGrath; Dylan Connolly (Jack O'Keeffe 88), Ronan Murray, Michael Duffy
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Gavin Smith, Adam Finnegan
Cork City: Peter Cherrie; Colm Horgan (Steven Beattie HT), Alan Bennett, Aaron Barry, Shane Griffin; Barry McNamee, Conor McCormack, Gearóid Morrissey (Conor McCarthy 90); Jimmy Keohane (Karl Sheppard HT), Graham Cummins (Tobi Adebayo-Rowling 90), Kieran Sadlier (Seán McLoughlin 90)
Subs not used: Adam Cantwell (gk), Danny Kane
Referee: Derek Tomney