Oriel Park played host to another famous night on Friday as stoppage-time goals from Cameron Elliott and Patrick Hoban saw Dundalk come from behind to beat nine-man Cork City.
Trailing to Tunde Owolabi’s first-half strike, it looked like the Lilywhites’ five-game unbeaten run was coming to a close as the game ticked towards the final whistle but when the referee’s assistant signalled that at least eight minutes would be added on, Stephen O’Donnell’s men dug deep.
Elliott’s brilliant finish, his first for the club, looked to have earned Dundalk a share of the spoils but the Leesiders hit the self-destruct button and after seeing Josh Honohan and captain Cian Coleman dismissed, they were left on the floor when Hoban showed great composure to beat Jimmy Corcoran in the 97th minute to spark scenes of jubilation that were reminiscent of glorious nights from the past.
Cork, with interim manager Liam Buckley in the dugout, took a one-goal lead into the break thanks to Owolabi’s 19th-minute strike. The Belgian forward, who scored three times against Dundalk for Finn Harps in the 2021 season, sounded a warning after just five minutes when he forced Nathan Shepperd into a save at his near post with a low drive.
Dundalk failed to heed the notice and Ruiari Keating found himself with time and space to take the ball down and slip Owolabi through and he coolly rounded Shepperd to roll the ball home.
Shepperd had to hold a Honohan header and Dundalk finally sparked into life after that with Kevin Cutovioc making a brilliant block to stop Alfie Lewis from sweeping home a Ryan O’Kane cross after the winger was sent free by Connor Malley’s pass.
Hoban started the game with nine league goals against Cork City on his CV and when the ball left his head from O’Kane’s cross in the 37th minute, it looked like he had claimed number 10 but it came back off the underside of the crossbar with Corcoran beaten.
Cork carried a threat going forward and Keating and Owolabi both gave the Dundalk backline – and supporters – palpitations as the half came to a close but the former saw his shot hit the side netting while Owolabi was halted by Hayden Muller at the expense of a corner.
HT: Dundalk FC 0-1 Cork City
The Lilywhites suffered another setback when Rayhaan Tulloch limped off with an injury just five minutes after the restart. He was replaced by John Martin.
A quick give-and-go between Ward and Archie Davies ended with the 1903 Supporters Club Player of the Month for April shooting at Corcoran in the 57th minute. Hoban then tried to hook a spectacular effort towards the goal that also ended in the goalkeeper’s arms.
O’Donnell turned to his bench again, introducing Elliott and Johannes Yli-Kokko for Hayden Muller and Keith Ward with 23 minutes to play but Dundalk found it difficult to break down the well-drilled visitors and Hoban, who scored a stunning overhead kick against Cork City at Oriel Park in 2013, saw a similar attempt in the 71st minute straight at Corcoran.
The late drama really started to kick in when Cork City were reduced to 10 men with three minutes to play when Honohan was shown a second yellow card by referee Damien MacGraith and the Oriel Park faithful were given hope when a minimum of eight minutes of stoppage time was added.
Corcoran tempered their hopes slightly when he saved from Yli-Kokko but the Kells native could do nothing to keep Elliott’s stunning finish from a Daniel Kelly cross fly into the corner of the net with 94 minutes played.
Things threatened to kick off when Coleman was shown a straight red for a bad tackle on Doyle right in front of the Dundalk bench but the Lilywhites had the final say and when Darragh Leahy rose to flick the ball into Hoban’s path, the Lilywhites skipper made no mistake to cap a sensational comeback and secure O’Donnell’s men their fourth win on the bounce.
FT: Dundalk FC 2-1 Cork City
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Archie Davies, Hayden Muller (Cameron Elliott 67), Wasiri Williams, Darragh Leahy; Connor Malley (Daniel Kelly 76), Alfie Lewis (Paul Doyle 76); Ryan O’Kane, Keith Ward (Johannes Yli-Kokko 67), Rayhann Tulloch (John Martin 49); Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Robbie McCourt, Eoin Kenny, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
CORK CITY: Jimmy Corcoran; Josh Honohan, Cian Coleman, Kevin Custovic; Darragh Crowley, Barry Coffey, Matthew Healy, Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh (Aaron Bolger 76), Ethon Varian (John O’Donovan 68); Ruairi Keating, Tunde Owolabi (Cian Murphy 84). Subs not used: Daniel Moynihan (GK), Gordon Walker, Daniel Krezic, Josh Fitzpatrick, Eanna Fitzgerald, Colin Henderson.
REFEREE: Damien MacGraith. ATTENDANCE: 2,389.
|May 12, 2023
|2023 League of Ireland