Sean Maguire makes his point as Cork City send early title warning
President’s Cup win over Dundalk lays down a marker to league rivals
Cork City’s Gavan Holohan celebrates scoring his goal against Dundalk. Photo: Ciaran Culligan/Inpho
Stephen Kenny described Dundalk’s defeat by Cork City in Saturday’s President’s Cup at Turner’s Cross as a “wake-up call” for his players just a week ahead of the start of their latest Premier Division title defence.
Gavan Holohan and former Dundalk striker Sean Maguire scored City’s goals as John Caulfield’s side laid down a marker for the coming campaign. “I wouldn’t be getting too carried away,” said Caulfield afterwards, “it’s the President’s Cup but the early indications are good. It was a very competitive game, which we expected, but I thought we were the better team on the day.”
Tensions erupted between the two title rivals on one or two occasions over the course of the 90 minutes and Brian Gartland was sent off late on for a second bookable offence. City comfortably edged the first half, though, and took the lead 20 minutes in when Gary Rogers pushed a Stephen Dooley shot away only for Maguire to pick up the loose ball then feed Holohan for a straightforward tap-in.
Dundalk had had chances of their own early in the match with Gartland going close and Ciaran Kilduff forcing a decent save from Mark McNulty and they stepped things up after the break as started to chase the game with Ronan Finn, amongst others, threatening McNulty’s goal. City struck again on the break after an hour, though, as three of Caulfield’s new signings - Greg Bolger, Eoghan O’Connell and Maguire linked up well and the striker finished with a fine header beyond Rogers.
The striker might be forgiven for feeling that he successfully made a point to Kenny, who gave him few enough first team opportunities last year, but Caulfield cautioned that his players needed to remember that the real business of putting one over on the champions would only start next week when the league kicks off.
“There were an awful lot of strong performances but you see that the lads were tiring over the last 20 minutes or so. We’ve a lot of work to do but and we need the new players to settle in quickly. The early indications are that they’ll all do fine but if we give Dundalk a head start then it will be very difficult.”
Kenny’s men remain the favourites to come out on top again but St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers would be expected to improve on disappointing seasons last year, potentially making things a lot tighter during the months ahead, something he was clearly conscious of after Saturday’s defeat.
“From our point of view, we need to do better,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call for us, we must do better than that. We didn’t play well. We were very slow out of the blocks and Cork were obviously steaming out of them. We caused a few of our own problems.
“We have to dust ourselves down and go again. I wouldn’t say we are where we need to be based on that performance.”
Dundalk kick-off their campaign to make it three league crowns in a row next Saturday at the Carlisle Grounds while City take on Bohemians 24 hours earlier at Turner’s Cross.
Cork City: McNulty; O’Connell, Bennett, Browne, Dunleavy; Bolger, Morrissey; Turner, Holohan (Beattie 71), Dooley (Sheppard 76); Maguire (O’Sullivan 86).
Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon (Mountney 62), Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Shields, O’Donnell; McEleney (Barrett 81), Finn, Horgan; Kilduff (McMillan 84)
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).