Dundalk 1-0 Cork City
Tiarnán Mulvenna was the hero as his 86th-minute strike finally broke Cork City’s resistance to give Dundalk their first home win over the Leesiders in almost 12 years at Oriel Park on Saturday night. The Lilywhites should have been ahead long before the star youngster fired home from close range as they bounced back from last week’s defeat in Derry with an impressive display. But it was a case of ‘better late than never’ as Mulvenna popped up with his third goal of the season.
Mulvenna was given a rare run up front thanks to the absence of the suspended Alex Williams, and he made the most of it, the goal capping a superb individual performance. It could have been a different story for the home side, who welcomed back top scorer Chris Turner after an injury lay-off, had Stephen O’Donnell found the net with his 25-yard effort in the opening moments of the game. However, Peter Cherrie was equal to it as he pushed the ball behind, a save which proved to be his only one of the game as Dundalk controlled matters for much of the match.
While they dominated possession, though, they too had few chances in the opening period. Their first came midway through the half when Michael McGowan’s cross was tipped away by Dan Connor, with Michael Daly’s attempted follow-up only denied by last-ditch defending. That was their best chance of breaking the deadlock before the interval, but after it, it was a different story as chance after chance fell their way. The first of those came to Ger Rowe on 50 minutes, but after Mulvenna’s industry down the left produced the opening, the former Shamrock Rovers forward couldn’t hit the target as he totally miscued from close range.
As Dundalk probed, just past the hour-mark, they had another chance as Mulvenna neatly headed down to Turner, but the returning midfielder fired a placed shot straight at Connor from the edge of the area. Mulvenna again was in the thick of the action moments later as he broke through once more, with his effort inches away from finding the far bottom corner. The Lilywhites continued to push forward and, with 15 minutes left, they thought they had taken the lead. However, McGowan’s 20-yard piledriver, after connecting with a Turner corner, hit the post and was hooked away by Dan Murray for another corner.
Murray, though, couldn’t deal with a McGowan cross four minutes from time as the centre-half combined with Connor to setup Mulvenna who tapped in to an empty net to send the home crowd into raptures. The 20-year-old then should have doubled his tally in injury-time as Dundalk chased icing, but his sole strike proved enough to give the border outfit their first win over Cork at Oriel Park since 22 November 1997. The victory also sees the Lilywhites ease worries of a relegation battle as they are now 11 points clear of the bottom three, while they closed to within 10 points of the top four ahead of next week’s trip to Bohemians, which marks the start of the last round of games.
DUNDALK FC (4-4-2): Paul Cherrie; Shaun Kelly, Michael Coburn, Liam Burns, Kevin McKinlay; Michael Daly, Chris Turner, Paul McAreavey (Mickey Collins 58), Michael McGowan; Tiarnán Mulvenna, Ger Rowe.
CORK CITY FC (4-4-2): Dan Connor; Cillian Lordan, Dan Murray, Kevin Long, Greg O’Halloran; Davin O’Neill (Shane Duggan 81), Stephen McDonnell, Joe Gamble, Billy Dennehy; Guntars Silagailis (Fahrudin Kuduzovic 61), Gareth Cambridge.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).