Dundalk’s first trip to Turner’s Cross since 2020 turned out to be a forgettable one as Cian Murphy’s 38th-minute strike condemned the Lilywhites to their third straight league defeat – and their fourth in all competitions.
Coming off the back of the Good Friday loss at home to Sligo Rovers, Dundalk produced a disjointed display, coughing up another poor goal while failing to test Cork ‘keeper Jimmy Corcoran over the 90 minutes.
O’Donnell made three changes to the side that was beaten by Sligo Rovers less than 72 hours earlier with Robbie McCourt, Greg Sloggett and Daniel Kelly coming into the starting XI.
Darragh Leahy, Ryan O’Kane and John Martin all dropped to the bench where they were joined by Patrick Hoban, who made a welcome return to the squad after missing Dundalk’s three previous games with a hamstring injury.
Playing into a strong wind, Dundalk almost got off to a fantastic start when Johannes Yli-Kokko latched onto Greg Sloggett’s flick-on with less than 30 seconds played but Jonas Hakkinen made a fantastic block to deny his fellow Fin.
The travelling supporters led the shouts for a penalty in the 16th minute when Sloggett went down clutching his head from a Connor Malley corner but referee Sean Grant waved the appeals away.
The hosts caused a bit of unrest from set pieces and Kevin Custovic had a shot blocked by Andy Boyle after Cian Bargary’s long throw was only half cleared. From the subsequent phase of play, Ally Gilchrist glanced a header just wide of Nathan Shepperd’s right-hand post.
Colin Healy’s men forced control of things after that and they made the breakthrough in the 38th minute when Ruairi Keating beat Andy Boyle in the air to flick the ball through for Cian Murphy and he took advantage of Shepperd’s slip to rifle his effort through the goalkeeper’s legs.
The home fans in the Shed End were jubilant and they were almost celebrating again in stoppage time when Cian Coleman’s downward header across the face of goal looked certain to end up in the net but Sloggett did brilliantly to hook the ball away to safety and leave Dundalk just one behind at the interval.
HT: Cork City 1-0 Dundalk FC
O’Donnell made a change at the break, introducing John Martin for the injured Daniel Kelly up top, and he also brought on Ryan O’Kane and Keith Ward in a bid to inject some urgency into Dundalk’s attacking play.
Malley did jink his way into a shooting position on the edge of the box but Custovic blocked his attempt and Sloggett also saw one blocked by a green shirt.
Hoban was summoned from the bench with 18 minutes to play and Dundalk continued to try and force an equaliser with Rayhaan Tulloch seeing two quickfire efforts go wide of either upright.
Hoban couldn’t rise to meet a cross in the dying seconds and the final whistle blew shortly after to round off another frustrating evening.
FT: Cork City 1-0 Dundalk FC
CORK CITY: Jimmy Corcoran, Kevin Custovic, Jonas Hakkinen, Ally Gilchrist, Josh Honohan, Cian Bargary (Darragh Crowley 71), Aaron Bolger, Cian Coleman, Cian Murphy (Ethon Varion 78), Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh (Barry Coffey 69), Ruairi Keating. Subs not used: Tunde Owolabi, Albin Winbo, Daniel Krezic, John O’Donovan, Aaron Mannix (GK)
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Andy Boyle, Robbie McCourt (Patrick Hoban 72), Greg Sloggett, Alfie Lewis (Keith Ward 56), Connor Malley, Rayhaan Tulloch, Daniel Kelly (John Martin HT), Johannes Yli-Kokko (Ryan O’Kane 56). Subs not used: Darragh Leahy, Wasiri Williams, Anthony Moyo, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
REFEREE: Sean Grant. ATTENDANCE: 3,674.