Dundalk FC players celebrate Michael Duffy's goal during tonight's SSE Airtricity League Premier Division victory over Cork City at Oriel Park. (Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Dundalk FC 1-0 Cork City
Michael Duffy was Dundalk FC’s match-winner as the defending champions put down another marker with a hard-fought victory over rivals Cork City at Oriel Park on Friday night, in what could prove a huge three points in this season’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division race.
Home head coach Vinny Perth named the same starting XI that won in Derry two weeks ago, as he remained without midfielder Chris Shields through a knee injury. Cork, too, had personnel headaches as defender Dan Casey and winger Dáire O’Connor were ruled out.
Dundalk started at a high tempo and they went close on eight minutes. Duffy and Patrick Hoban combined well with a one-two, but, between Conor McCarthy and Mark McNulty, Duffy was denied as his shot was blocked behind for a corner.
Cork’s game-plan was disrupted somewhat with the early withdrawal of Colm Horgan through injury, as Garry Comerford came off the bench.
On 16 minutes, Duffy struck the side-netting as Dundalk continued to cause the visiting defence problems. It was a Cork backline that now included Shane Griffin in the unfamiliar position of right-back, but to their credit, they settled well after weathering the storm.
Still, they were struggling to create anything to worry Gary Rogers. On 33 minutes, they were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out after a late tackle from captain Brian Gartland. However, O’Connor’s curling effort went over the target.
Dundalk took control of the game on 38 minutes. Jamie McGrath created space down the left and, from the byline, his cross to the back post was met by Duffy who bravely challenged for the ball to power it over McNulty into the net.
At half-time, John Caulfield shuffled his defensive cards once more as he brought in the experience of Alan Bennett to replace earlier substitute Comerford. That allowed Griffin to return to the left wing, as Conor McCarthy slotted in at right-back.
Cork did start the second half well, but they had McNulty to thank for keeping them in the game on 53 minutes when he brilliantly pushed Hoban’s header over the bar.
That, though, proved to be a rare opening for the hosts in the second half. Cork enjoyed plenty of possession, but they lacked a cutting edge.
Rogers had a late scare when he was closed down by two defenders, with the ‘keeper relieved to see the ball bounce away to safety. Cork continued to throw everything in search of an equaliser, but, in truth, it never looked like coming.
Indeed, Duffy wasted a good opportunity to grab a breakaway second in injury-time, but by then, Dundalk had done enough to extend their unbeaten start to the campaign with another impressive success.
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Seán Hoare, Seán Murray (Dean Jarvis 77); Daniel Kelly (Cameron Dummigan 87), Jamie McGrath (John Mountney 90), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Georgie Kelly, Joe McKee, Jordan Flores
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan (Garry Comerford 9, Alan Bennett HT), Conor McCarthy, Seán McLoughlin, Kevin O’Connor (Dan Smith 82); Conor McCormack, Gearóid Morrissey; Karl Sheppard, Garry Buckley, Shane Griffin; Graham Cummins
Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan (gk), Darragh Rainsford, Pierce Phillips, Liam Nash
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan)
Attendance: 3,783 (official)
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