Dundalk 1 Cork City 0
Their sluggish start to the season was starting to seem like a distant memory as Dundalk completed a third straight victory here and delivered a significant blow in the process to Cork City’s chances of being title contenders this year.
A fine first half Michael Duffy goal was enough to deliver all three points and though Vinny Perth's side had to endure a late spell of pressure as City scrambled for an equaliser, the champions should have had a second on break when they caught their overcommitted opponents on the break, only for the Derryman to badly misplace his attempt to find John Mountney or Dean Jarvis in wide open space inside the area.
In the end, it made no difference and Dundalk were worth their win for the way they had dominated play and created the better chances through the better part of the game.
City weren't helped by the loss to injury so early on of Colm Horgan, something that required Shane Griffin to switch to right back and Garry Comerford, after coming on, to slot in on the left side of midfield.
Later, the cross that the led to the opening goal, would come from that side with Jamie McGrath weighing his ball to the far post perfectly. Still, it was Duffy’s determination to get his head on it that proved decisive in a situation where the defence still looked to be in control of things as the cross came in.
There were six minutes to go to the break at that stage and when it came, John Caulfield acted again, this time bringing on Alan Bennett, moving Conor McCarthy to right back and returning Griffin to where he started.
For all of the changes, through, the fundamentals remained the same: Dundalk had the better of things and consistently looked the more likely to score, while City were either careless as they sought to work their way up the pitch or went long and left Graham Cummins with far too much to do.
By contrast, Dundalk managed to keep the visitors pinned back for long periods, and got multiple bodies into their opponents’ box while initially working the ball into promising positions out wide. Cork repeatedly looked stretched, although before the goal the closest the home side had come to scoring was a low drive by Duffy into the side-netting that prompted premature celebrations among the home crowd.
Pat Hoban's close-range header forced the best save of the night from Mark McNulty and the hosts will feel they should have worked the Cork City goalkeeper a little more. Gary Rogers had even less to do, although he still needed just a little luck late on when Graham Cummins came close to dispossessing him as he delayed a pass on the edge of his area.
DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Cleary, Massey; Murray (Jarvis, 77 mins), Hoare; Kelly (Dummigan, 88 mins), McGrath (Mountney, 90 mins), Duffy; Hoban.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Horgan (Comerford, 9 mins (Bennett, half-time)), McCarthy, McLoughlin, O'Connor (Smith, 82 mins); McCormack, Morrissey; Sheppard, Buckley, Griffin; Cummins.
Referee: P McLaughlin (Donegal).