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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

Sadlier's goal the difference as Cork City bounce back against Shamrock Rovers

The former Irish U21 international struck from the penalty spot to keep the champions on top.

Cork City v Shamrock Rovers - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Kieran Sadlier celebrates after scoring for Cork City against Shamrock Rovers. Source: Stephen McCarthy

Cork City 1
Shamrock Rovers 0

Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross

KIERAN SADLIER’S FOURTH goal of the season was enough for Cork City to return to winning ways at the expense of Shamrock Rovers in this evening’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Turner’s Cross.

The result keeps the defending champions at the summit of the table after they responded positively to the disappointment of Friday’s 1-0 defeat away to Dundalk. It was the second loss of the season for an in-form Rovers side, who put six goals past both Derry City and Bray Wanderers in their two most recent outings.

Sadlier converted from the penalty spot late in the first half for John Caulfield’s side after Graham Cummins was fouled by Hoops goalkeeper Kevin Horgan. The former Irish U21 international, who opened his account for 2018 in last month’s President’s Cup victory over Dundalk, has now netted three times in five games in this league campaign.

Facing a Shamrock Rovers side who had scored 12 times in their last 180 minutes of football, Cork City selected a relatively inexperienced defence. With Steven Beattie ruled out due to injury, 19-year-old Conor McCarthy reverted to right-back after playing alongside Aaron Barry in the centre for Friday’s defeat at Oriel Park. Barry’s new partner was 21-year-old Sean McLoughlin, who was making just his second league start for the club as the injured Alan Bennett remained sidelined. The other change in the home side’s line-up saw Garry Buckley replaced by Barry McNamee in the attacking central midfield role.

Cork City v Shamrock Rovers - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Joey O'Brien of Shamrock Rovers under pressure from Cork City's Barry McNamee. Source: Stephen McCarthy

Rovers handed a debut to former Irish international Joey O’Brien, who started at right-back due to the absence of the injured Ethan Boyle. Left-back Luke Byrne came in at the expense of Trevor Clarke, who was among the substitutes, in the second change made by manager Stephen Bradley following Friday’s 6-1 victory over Derry City.

Meaty challenges were plentiful but chances were scarce during the first half at Turner’s Cross, where 4,483 spectators turned up to watch the second home game of Cork City’s tenure as champions. Aaron Barry had to make a crucial block to prevent Dan Carr from giving Rovers the lead from close range, before Sean Kavanagh drilled the ball inches wide from just outside the box after some nice build-up play involving Lee Grace and Graham Burke.

Nearly 38 minutes had passed by the time City finally had an attempt at Kevin Horgan’s goal, and the breakthrough followed shortly afterwards. After Graham Cummins’ header from Sadlier’s cross struck the post, Horgan brought Cummins down and referee Robert Harvey didn’t hesitate to point to the spot. Sadlier went straight down the middle with his penalty kick to give the hosts the lead.

City went close to doubling their advantage three minutes before the interval. Cummins released Barry McNamee down the left, his low cross found Karl Sheppard at the near post, but his flicked effort was saved by Horgan.

Playing into the Shed End, the champions were much more of an offensive threat after the break. McNamee had a couple of good chances, failing to get a good connection on Sheppard’s cross before firing over when Cummins teed him up. Gearoid Morrissey was also unable to hit the target following an assist from Cummins, who himself had City’s best chance of the second half. However, the former St Johnstone striker steered his left-footed effort just wide from Sadlier’s cross.

Cork City v Shamrock Rovers - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Kieran Sadlier converts from the penalty spot. Source: Stephen McCarthy

But Stephen Bradley’s side did have opportunities to draw level. Carr couldn’t manage to get on the end of a good passing movement involving Ronan Finn, Sean Kavanagh and Brandon Miele. The English striker also had an effort blocked by Shane Griffin, who was later named the home side’s man of the match.

The closest Rovers came to snatching a share of the spoils was from a corner with eight minutes of normal time remaining. Graham Burke’s delivery reached Luke Byrne at the back post, but the full-back’s header struck Mark McNulty’s crossbar.

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Aaron Barry, Sean McLoughlin, Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack, Gearoid Morrissey; Karl Sheppard, Barry McNamee (Garry Buckley, 77), Kieran Sadlier (Jimmy Keohane, 84) Graham Cummins.

Shamrock Rovers: Kevin Horgan; Joey O’Brien (Joel Coustrain, 70), Lee Grace, Ally Gilchrist (Roberto Lopes, 47), Luke Byrne; Sam Bone, Ronan Finn; Brandon Miele (Trevor Clarke, 67), Graham Burke, Sean Kavanagh; Daniel Carr.

Referee: Robert Harvey

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