This match report was done for League of Ireland news site, ExtraTime.
Original article here.
Cork City supporters were left shaking their heads at another two points squandered, as Sean O’Connor’s 81st minute strike secured what had seemed an unlikely draw for Shamrock Rovers.
Credit must be given to the visitors for their tremendous work-rate throughout, but with City controlling the game for most of a wet evening at Turner’s Cross, Liam Kearney’s opener looked to have provided the home side with a strong basis to take the three points.
The Cork leg of Munster’s Heineken Cup coming certainly took its toll on the attendance, with only 2,500 supporters turning up for a game that has traditionally proved a big draw. The Leesiders fielded an unchanged eleven after their comfortable win at Bray, which meant that Joe Gamble, just back from suspension, had to be content with a place on the bench.
From the beginning, the home side looked the more lively, with Pat Scully’s side content to close down the space and hope to catch the hosts on the break. The match referee, Richie Winter put down an early marker on dissent, having words with Rovers’ Stephen Rice as early as the fourth minute.
Chances were few and far between in the opening stages, with City playing at a high tempo but being frequently let down by their final ball. In particular, Danny Murphy was guilty of being wasteful on several occasions, the full-back being all to eager to hit quick ball forward when a more structured approach might have proved more profitable. Rovers actually did have the ball in the back of the net after 10 minutes, but Padraig Amond had already been flagged offside by the time he collected Alan Murphy’s through ball.
As Rovers dropped deeper, City created a series of openings, most notably in the 34th minute when a speculative ball from Danny Murphy looked to have John O’Flynn through on the edge of the area. The slightest of tugs from Aidan Price led to yellow card for the Rovers defender and George O’Callaghan came close from the resulting free, with the ball dipping just wide of Barry Murphy’s right-hand post.
For the most part though, Rovers reduced their opponents to half-chances, with their defence remaining as disciplined as the opposing attack was erratic. Liam Kearney went close on a couple of occasions, and Barry Murphy was down quickly after spilling a long rang effort from Colin Healy on the stroke of half-time to ensure matters remained level at the interval.
City almost made the breakthrough in the 49th minute, when O’Callaghan was desperately unlucky to see a superb free-kick come back off the bar from 25 yards. Just four minutes later, Rovers’ Murphy scooped a John O’Flynn effort off the line to the disbelief of the home crowd.
The elusive goal came after 58 minutes, with Liam Kearney tucking away a diving header at the far post following a Dave Mooney flick-on from Pat Sullivan’s throw-in.
City now upped the tempo, pegging Rovers back on the edge of their own area for long spell, with the impressive Darren Murphy flashing a header across the face of the goal on 63 minutes. Rovers made their second substitution of the night, David Tyrell replacing Aidan Price, as they sought to stem the flow. As it was, now pressing higher up the pitch, they struck a peach of a breakaway goal. Just moments after Dave Mooney had struck the base of the post, having been played through by O’Callaghan, Sean O’Connor found the back of the net from just inside the area, after Alan Murphy’s pass caught the City defence napping.
With just three minutes of regulation time remaining Alan Matthews replaced Kearney with Denis Behan, switching to 4-3-3, but in the end his side were left to rue earlier misses as the game fizzled out to a one-all draw.
Cork City (4-4-2): Michael Devine; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Pat Sullivan, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Darren Murphy, Colin Healy, George O’Callaghan; Dave Mooney, John O’Flynn.
Subs: Denis Behan for Liam Kearney (87 mins)
Not used: Joe Gamble, Cillian Lordan, Mark McNulty, Alan O’Connor.
Booked: Behan (45).
Goals: Kearney (58).
Shamrock Rovers (4-4-2):Barry Murphy; Danny O’Connor, Corey Tracey, Aidan Price, Barry Ferguson; Darragh Maguire, Eoin Doyle, Stephen Rice, Alan Murphy; Padraig Amonda. Seam O’Connor.
Subs: Tadhg Purcell for Eoin Doyle (50 mins), David Tyrell for Aidan Price (69 mins).
Not used: Mark Langtry, Darren Stapleton, Karl Coleman.
Booked: Price (34), Doyle (43), Maguire (48).
Goals: Sean O’Connor (81).
Referee: Richie Winter
Man of the match: Darren Murphy.