Dundalk 1-2 Cork City
Late goals from Billy Dennehy and Denis Behan stunned a dominant Dundalk side as Cork City came from behind to snatch an undeserved 2-1 win at Oriel Park on Friday night. Chris Turner’s header just past the hour mark looked set to give the Lilywhites their first home win of the season, however, Dennehy capitalised on a defensive mix-up to draw the visitors level before Behan stole the three points in the dying moments.
Dundalk were clear winners on the possession stakes throughout the game, though Cork went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Joe Gamble drilled over and Danny Murphy’s cross was pushed on to the post by Chris Bennion. The hosts’ only real opening saw Darren Mansaram shoot wide from inside the box. However, they were rewarded for their endeavour after the break when Turner expertly dispatched George O’Callaghan’s delivery.
It was a breakthrough which proved a blessing in disguise for Cork, though, as they came out of their shell and also replied instantly through Dennehy’s powerful drive which Bennion pushed away. Dundalk coped well thereafter and looked comfortable but they were hit with a sucker-punch on 74 minutes as uncertainty in defence gave Dennehy the chance to sneak between Thomas Heary and Michael Coburn to hook the ball beyond Bennion.
The goal rocked Dundalk badly and the former Derry City winger could have grabbed his second of the night shortly after when he broke the offside trap and raced clear on goal only to be denied by a fantastic block by the home ‘keeper. Cork sensed a knockout blow and they landed it in the final minute of normal time when Heary was outpaced by Behan who broke in on the left side of the area and coolly finished past Bennion with a low strike.
For their fourth game in 11 days, Dundalk were without the suspended Simon Kelly, who served an automatic one-match ban following his dismissal in Bray last weekend, and injured duo Shaun Kelly and Declan O’Brien, who sat in the stand after being named on the bench to make up a squad of 16. New arrival Ger Rowe, whose signing was completed just hours earlier, was also listed among the substitutes and made his debut during the second half.
Dundalk started brightly and Mansaram went close early on when he showed good strength to hold off Dan Murray and cut inside before firing wide from a good position. For all their possession, however, the Lilywhites almost found themselves behind just short of the half hour when Pat Sullivan’s cross was headed away by Heary into the path of Joe Gamble, who drilled his shot over the bar from the edge of the box.
Dundalk continued to dictate proceedings but they failed to seriously trouble Dan Connor in the Cork goal, with Mansaram’s tame effort from the edge the area forcing the former Drogheda United ‘keeper into his only save of the night. The Leesiders, whose attacks were sporadic, looked threatening when they ventured forward and Murphy’s cross, after he beat three players down the left, was taken off the head of Gamble and tipped on to the upright by Bennion on 39 minutes. Turner then went close with a thunderous 30-yard effort just before the break.
Cork settled better after the interval but were made to pay for their wayward finishing when Dundalk broke the deadlock on 61 minutes. O’Callaghan floated an inch-perfect cross into the box for Turner who got between Murphy and Shane Duggan to head home from six yards. On overall play, it was a deserved lead for the hosts but Cork almost pulled level immediately when Dennehy’s rasping shot from the left side of the area was pushed out by Bennion before Liam Burns cleared to safety.
The hosts could have doubled their advantage soon after when Harpal Singh’s cross was headed narrowly wide by Michael Daly after the youngster rose above Connor. Dundalk were looking comfortable with Cork restricted to long-range efforts, however, the Lilywhites were left stunned with just 16 minutes remaining following a terrible defensive mix-up involving Heary, Coburn and Bennion, as they allowed the lone Dennehy to latch on to Fahrudin Kuduzovic’s ball over the top and score his second club goal.
The strike shattered Dundalk, who had a penalty claim waved away seconds later after Tiarnán Mulvenna fell in the area, and Dennehy should have shot Cork ahead on 82 minutes when he raced on to Duggan’s through ball only to be thwarted by a fine Bennion stop. The home side failed to heed that warning, however, and the visitors stole the game in the dying seconds when Behan ran on to a Murphy pass and powered his way past Heary before calmly beating Bennion at his near post.
Despite the disappointing defeat, however, the overall performance will have given manager Sean Connor and his squad a much-needed lift after Monday’s disappointing display at Shelbourne. Dundalk dominated for long stretches and, unlike against Shamrock Rovers last week, made their possession count with Turner’s goal. The side were comfortable thereafter but, yet again, it was individual mistakes in defence which cost the side dear, something which will have to be eradicated ahead of trips to Derry City and Bohemians over the next fortnight.
dundalkfc.com Man of Match: Michael Daly (Dundalk) – Arguably Dundalk’s most consistent performer this season, the 19-year-old once again put in an impressive shift and should not have been on the losing side.
DUNDALK FC (4-4-2): Chris Bennion; Michael Coburn, Liam Burns, Thomas Heary, Dave Rogers; Michael Daly, Chris Turner, George O’Callaghan, Harpal Singh (Ger Rowe 67); Darren Mansaram, Tiarnán Mulvenna.
Goal: C Turner (61).
Unused Subs: Ryan Coulter (GK), Declan O’Brien, Sean Mackle, Michael McGinlay.
CORK CITY FC (4-4-2): Dan Connor; Pat Sullivan, Greg O’Halloran, Dan Murray, Danny Murphy; Colin Healy, Joe Gamble, Shane Duggan, Billy Dennehy; Guntars Silagailis (Fahrudin Kuduzovic 68), Denis Behan.
Goals: B Dennehy (74), D Behan (89).
Unused Subs: Mark McNulty (GK), Cillian Lordan, Tim Kiely, Davin O’Neill.
Referee: Declan Hanney (Dublin).