down to the wire

Four crucial goals (and one big save) that kept Cork's unlikely title dream alive

If Cork win the Premier Division title on Friday night, nobody can say they did it the easy way.

Colin Healy's spectacular winner against St Pat's was one of many dramatic moments in the Cross this season. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

CORK CITY’S TITLE chase simply didn’t know when to die.

A 10-match unbeaten run, including eight wins, has propelled John Caulfield’s side to the top of the Premier Division and set up a winner-takes-all showdown against Dundalk on Friday night.

Here are four crucial goals — and one big save — that kept the Rebels’ unlikely dream alive down the stretch.

8 August: Cork City 1-0 St Patrick’s Athletic (Healy, 88′)

On the first Friday in August, Dundalk came away from Turner’s Cross with a 2-1 win that looked set to tilt the title race decisively in their favour.

Cork faced an equally tough test the following week when they hosted champions St Pat’s. Still scoreless with two minutes to play, Colin Healy scored a spectacular overhead kick to snatch all three points.

Up in Louth, Dundalk were held to a 1-1 draw by local rivals Drogheda United. The gap closed from six points to four and Cork breathed life into their challenge one more time.

IrishRisingFilms / YouTube

5 September: Cork City 1-0 Shamrock Rovers (Murray, 90+2′)

Cork lost ground with a costly 2-2 draw in Athlone and they couldn’t afford to slip up again when Shamrock Rovers visited the following week.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Dan. Dan Murray was in the right place at the right time to head home a stoppage-time winner against another of his old clubs.

The same evening, Dundalk lost 1-0 against St Pat’s in Inchicore and the Lilywhites’ advantage was cut from six points to three again.

IrishRisingFilms / YouTube

21 September: Limerick 0-1 Cork City (Lehane, 77′)

With Dundalk winning the EA Sports Cup against Shamrock Rovers the previous evening, Cork had a chance to keep the pressure on if they could win in Limerick.

While most sporting gazes were turned towards Croke Park and Kerry’s latest All-Ireland triumph, Robert Lehane came off the bench and scored the only goal to deny Limerick what would have been a well-deserved point.

Cork moved to within three points of the top — but Dundalk had a game in hand.

26 September: Cork City 2-1 Sligo Rovers (North missed pen, 87′)

The TV cameras were on Leeside for the Friday night clash between Cork and Sligo Rovers, and they got the prime-time drama to match.

City sub Michael Sweeney fouled Ruairi Keating with three minutes to play and up stepped Danny North with a chance to snatch a 2-2 draw — and put the brakes on the Rebels’ title charge.

North scuffed his shot, goalkeeper Mark McNulty saved, and Turner’s Cross erupted. The dream was still alive.


17 October: Cork City 1-0 Bohemians (Dennehy, 45′)

After drawing their game in hand with Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk still held a slender two-point lead with two games to play and increasingly, the title race looked like it would boil down to a final day decider in Oriel Park.

Dundalk unexpectedly surrendered their advantage when they could only manage a draw in woeful conditions in Bray last Friday night. Cork took full advantage, beating Bohs 1-0 with this fortuitous Billy Dennehy free kick to go top of the league.

After all of those ups and downs, is there one final twist still to come in the tale?


Artificial pitches are ‘wrong’ – but Cork boss Caulfield making no excuses for title decider

Stuart Byrne column: Cork and Dundalk would both be worthy champions

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