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Full-time: Cork City 1-1 Dundalk

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HAVING BEEN NEARLY men for so long, Cork City’s 12-year drought finally looks set to come to an end this season.

John Caulfield’s men have been champions-elect for some time after running away with the title race but their fans have had to be patient as recent poor form — since the departures of Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor for Preston North End — saw the Leesiders allow the gap at the top to be closed to 11 points.

With five matches remaining, however, City can clinch the Premier Division for only the second time in the club’s history tonight with victory over the team they have had to play second fiddle to for the past three years — Dundalk.

Kick-off is 7.20pm, the game is live on RTÉ2 and this should be a cracker.

A handy note for Cork City supporters looking to get off work on time and make the game. Quite a few will be needing one for tomorrow morning if things go to plan this evening…

Here’s the team news…

Caulfield makes three changes to the side that lost to Limerick on Friday night — Captain Alan Bennett comes in for Robbie Williams, Conor McCormack replaces Greg Bolger and Kieran Sadlier drops out with Garry Buckley getting the nod.

For the Lilywhites, Niclas Vemmelund misses out through suspension so Sean Hoare partners Brian Gartland at centre-half, while Patrick McEleney, Robbie Benson and Michael Duffy are all restored to the starting line-up after second half cameos in the 3-0 win over Drogheda United.

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Ryan Delaney, Alan Bennett (c), Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack, Jimmy Keohane, Gearoid Morrissey; Garry Buckley, Karl Sheppard, Stephen Dooley.

 

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Dylan Connolly, Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy; David McMillan.

Cork City have just announced that the ground has sold out. The atmosphere should be electric at the Cross.

Scenes in The Shed in the last couple of minutes:

Theses two clubs have played three times this season with Cork winning out on each occasion — 3-0 in the President’s Cup, 2-1 in the league at home and 3-0 at Oriel Park.

No Soccer Republic tonight but RTÉ have kindly tweeted out the highlights from the weekend that they’ve just shown if you want to kill a few minutes before kick-off…

Both sides are out on the pitch and we’re about to get going. Rob Rogers is tonight’s referee.

Cork Dundalk Source: RTE Player

Kick-off – The home side tip off. City in their green and white, Dundalk also wearing their traditional colours of white and black.

4 mins – Dundalk win a free-kick about 40 yards out from goal and it’s whipped in but cleared by Cork, who break through Stephen Dooley. He plays in Karl Sheppard, who does really well to get down the line and break into the box.

His shot is blocked at the near post by Chris Shields, however.

7 mins – Another Dundalk free-kick from a similar position and they earn a corner. Michael Duffy takes the set-pieces, and it’s headed away at the front post.

Cork attack straight away and Dooley finds Garry Buckley. His ball is a little overhit though and it runs out over the end line.

9 mins – Dundalk are playing some really nice one-touch football here. We’ve just seen the first yellow card of the night too as Morrissey is cautioned for obstructing Shields. Undoubtedly a free-kick but the booking may have been a little harsh.

12 mins – A sloppy pass from McEleney puts Hoare in trouble and the ex-Pat’s defender is yellow-carded after tripping Keohane — although replays show he got a touch on the ball.

15 mins – Another late tackle. Dane Massey catches Steven Beattie and actually injures himself in the process. The referee gives the Dundalk full-back a quick talking to but keeps his card in his pocket this time.

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20 mins – GOAL! Cork City 1-0 Dundalk (Brian Gartland own goal) 

The Leesiders take the front! A fine attack sees Dooley cross to Buckley and his shot is saved by Rogers. Hoare attempts to clear the danger but smacks the ball off the body of Gartland and it crosses the line.

27 mins – Massey kicks out at Sheppard down in the corner and this time goes into the referee’s book.

29 mins – The resulting free-kick comes into the box, Buckley gets his shot away and Rogers pulls off a fine save.

Here’s the goal…

36 mins – Cork will be disappointed they haven’t scored a second in the last few minutes. First, Dooley drills straight at Rogers. He then turns provider with a lovely ball to Keohane, who fires over under pressure from Gartland.

42 mins – McEleney goes on a run but gets the execution of his shot all wrong and it sails into the crowd. Dundalk need more from their star man.

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Half-time: Cork City 1-0 Dundalk 

Cork City fans at the game Cork City fans flying flags. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

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46 mins – We’re back for the second half. If things stay as they are, Cork City will be crowned 2017 champions at the final whistle. Dundalk have to take the game to them now.

50 mins – Cork are sitting quite deep in the early stages of this second half with the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of possession.

In the night’s other game, St Patrick’s Athletic lead Shamrock Rovers 2-0 at Tallaght Stadium. That would be a huge three points for the Saints, particularly after their defeat to Bohs last Friday.

57 mins – The official attendance at Turner’s Cross is 6,983.

60mins – Dundalk free-kick put into the box, McNulty punches clear, but the away side keep possession. It’s lobbed back into the danger area and the Cork keeper catches this time.

Meanwhile, Conor McCormack is the latest player to pick up a yellow after going through McEleney.

And it looks like Stephen O’Donnell is about to come on.

66 mins – Yet more yellow cards getting dished out. Sheppard goes past Shane Grimes before the Dundalk man brings him down and earns a caution.

And here comes O’Donnell, who replaces Shields.

69 mins – Good work from Sheppard again as he draws in a foul from Hoare. The Dundalk defender has to be careful as he’s already on a yellow. That challenge could easily have earned him a second.

Dooley steps up to take the resulting free-kick and sends it whistling just over Rogers’ crossbar.

74 mins – That’s a chance for Dundalk. Bennett heads a McEleney cross into the air, McNulty punches only as far as Duffy and he slices a strike a couple of yards wide.

80 mins – Just 10 to go here. You’d expect Dundalk to throw everything at it in the closing stages.

83 mins – Sheppard draws in a foul once again to relieve the pressure for his team. This time it was Connolly who brought him down.

85 mins – Dundalk make their third and final substitute as Jamie McGrath comes on for Duffy.

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87 mins – GOAL! Cork City 1-1 Dundalk (Robbie Benson) 

Oof! The Lilywhites appear to have put City’s title party plans on hold. Connolly’s cross is turned home from close range by Benson.

89 mins – Three minutes of time added on to play.

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