John Martin popped up with yet another priceless goal as Dundalk came from behind to take all three points against Cork City at Turner’s Cross.
Trailing to an unfortunate Louie Annesley own goal, Dundalk pulled level just before the break when Ryan O’Kane’s corner from the left beat Jimmy Corcoran and ended up in the net.
Stephen O’Donnell’s men pushed on after the restart but it looked like they would be frustrated until Martin showed great reactions to throw his head at a deflected cross to plant a brilliant header past Corcoran with just five minutes to go.
Unsurprisingly, O’Donnell named an unchanged side from the 4-1 win over UCD at Oriel Park four days earlier. The only alteration to the squad was the inclusion of the returning Wasiri Williams, who replaced Eoin Kenny on the substitutes bench.
Patrick Hoban scored a hat-trick in that victory over the Students to move level with Joey Donnelly on 142 goals and he had an early chance to claim the record when he was picked out by O’Kane’s low corner but he scuffed his effort and Corcoran made an easy save.
The hosts started the game looking for their fifth straight win and they broke the deadlock with 20 minutes played when Kevin Custovic found himself with acres of space to attack down the right. His cross looked like it had been turned home by Ruairi Keating, only for replays to conclude that the final touch came off the unlucky Annesley.
Attacking a buoyant Shed End, the hosts nearly doubled their advantage seven minutes before the break when Matt Healy cut the ball back from the byline for Tunde Owolabi but Nathan Shepperd made an unbelievable stop from close range before pouncing on the striker’s follow-up before it crossed the line.
A slip by Archie Davies almost allowed Barry Coffey a run on goal but Andy Boyle did enough to shunt the ball out for a corner and the Rebels went close again just seconds later when Healy curled one from the left of the penalty area only to see it go fly just wide of the upright.
Dundalk looked like they needed the break to come but when it did arrive, the Lilywhites went in on level terms thanks to O’Kane’s 44th-minute corner, which beat everyone in the six-yard box to nestle inside the far post and give the small band of travelling supporters something to shout about!
HT: Cork City 1-1 Dundalk FC
O’Donnell showed his hand in the second half, throwing Rayhaan Tulloch and Connor Malley into the fray with just under an hour played and Tulloch almost made an instant impression but he blazed over the top after being teed up nicely by Andy Boyle from a breaking corner.
Malley’s burst down the right allowed him to make space for a cross on the right shortly after but Cami Elliott just couldn’t get enough on his header.
Martin was also sent on to try and win it with 77 minutes on the clock and his moment arrived late on. Hoban threw himself in the air to try and meet an O’Kane cross but the ball evaded him, deflected off a Cork defender, and fell for the former Waterford man who made no mistake with a cracking header.
Six additional minutes were played but Dundalk saw it out to record a crucial win that moves the Lilywhites into fifth place going into the mid-season break, four points off second-placed Derry City, and a further six behind leaders Shamrock Rovers.
FT: Cork City 1-2 Dundalk FC
CORK CITY: Jimmy Corcoran, Cian Coleman, Ally Gilchrist, Josh Honohan, Kevin Custovic, Aaron Bolger, Matthew Healy, Barry Coffey (Cian Bargary 81), John O’Donovan (Daniel Krezic 81), Ruairi Keating, Tunde Owolabi (Cian Murphy 84). Subs not used: Daniel Moynihan (GK), Gordon Walker, Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh, Joshua Fitzpatrick, Eanna Fitzgerald, Colin Henderson.
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Andy Boyle, Louie Annesley, Darragh Leahy, Greg Sloggett, Johannes Yli-Kokko (Connor Malley 58), Daniel Kelly (Rayhaan Tulloch 58), Patrick Hoban, Ryan O’Kane (Paul Doyle 90), Cameron Elliott (John Martin 77). Subs not used: Hayden Muller, Keith Ward, Wasiri Williams, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
REFEREE: Robert Hennessy.