Cork take top spot after battling win over Derry
Home side were 2-0 up and cruising before a Derry City fightback in the second half
Cork’s Kieran Sadlier celebrates scoring a goal with Sean McLoughlin during their win over Derry City. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Cork City 4 Derry City 2
Cork City are back on top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, but they had to work for the win against Derry City at Turner’s Cross on Monday afternoon.
Having moved 2-0 in front when Karl Sheppard netted his second inside 28 seconds of the restart, the Rebel Army looked to be cruising, but Derry – having only won one of their previous five games – responded strongly.
Darren Cole had shot over after a good run while Rory Patterson was also off-target but on 65 minutes they had a goal back when Patterson flicked Gerard Doherty’s goal kick on to Ronan Curtis and the striker fired past Mark McNulty with a low shot to mark his final game before joining Portsmouth.
That was only the second home league goal conceded by Cork City, but another came just four minutes later. Left-back Jack Doyle sent a good cross over from the left and, when that eluded Shane Griffin at the back post, Ronan Hale fired high beyond McNulty’s dive.
Failure to take full advantage of their game in hand would have been a blow to Cork’s title challenge, but parity lasted just three minutes as Kieran Sadlier restored the home lead with a 25-yard free kick over the wall and beyond the dive of Doherty.
Hale might have levelled again for the Candystripes, curling an effort beyond the post, but the game was made safe by the champions on 83 minutes. When McNulty’s clearance bounced beyond the Derry rearguard, Cummins nipped in to cushion a header over Doherty and, while that came back off the crossbar, the centre-forward rushed in to convert the rebound from less than a yard out.
It was an outcome which was deserved overall, but it should have been more straightforward, especially given the start they had. Sheppard, in for suspended captain Conor McCormack and skipper in his absence, had them in front on seven minutes as he met Cummins’ cross from the left with a glancing header.
No clear-cut chances to double that lead presented themselves in the first half but, while Derry looked to respond positively to going behind, they weren’t able to engineer any real shots at McNulty’s goal either.
When Buckley played a lovely through ball for Sheppard in the nascent stages of the second half, he slotted past Doherty and that looked to have made the game safe. Cork City did take the points, but not before Derry posed some tough questions.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Horgan, McCarthy, McLoughlin, Griffin (Kane 73); Keohane, McNamee (O’Hanlon 76); Sheppard, Buckley, Sadlier; Cummins (Barry 86).
DERRY CITY: G Doherty; McDonagh, Toal, Peers (Logue 61), Doyle; Hale, Cole, Rory Hale; Ronan Hale, Patterson, Curtis.
Referee: R Hennessy (Clare).