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Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 30 September 2020

Much-improved Cork City make it back-to-back wins under Cotter

The Leesiders saw off UCD at Turner’s Cross thanks to goals from Karl Sheppard and Graham Cummins.

Cork City 2

Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross

EARLY GOALS IN each half secured a second win in as many games for Cork City since the appointment of John Cotter as interim manager.

A first goal of the season from captain Karl Sheppard gave the hosts a fifth-minute lead against UCD this evening in front of 2,249 spectators in Cork.

Karl Sheppard celebrates a goal with Dan Casey Karl Sheppard celebrates with Dan Casey and Conor McCormack after giving Cork City and early lead against UCD. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

With just over seven minutes of the second half played, Graham Cummins scored his third of the campaign to seal the victory over the Students, whose last win at Turner’s Cross came in January 2003.

After a recent run of poor form saw Cork City part company with previous boss John Caulfield, they produced another much-improved display to build on last week’s win at Bohemians. 

As the season approaches its midway point, second-from-bottom UCD are now nine points adrift of safety after Collie O’Neill’s side suffered their sixth consecutive defeat.

The teams entered this game on the back of contrasting fortunes in their respective outings last weekend. While UCD became the first side to lose to basement club Finn Harps this season, Cork City halted a winless run of eight games by grinding out a much-needed 1-0 victory against Bohs at Dalymount Park.

UCD, whose most recent win came at home to City last month, showed three changes to the team that started in Ballybofey seven days ago. Dan Tobin, Richie O’Farrell and Ireland U21 international Neil Farrugia all dropped down to the bench to make way for Evan Farrell, Sean McDonald and Jason McClelland.

For the home side, Darragh Rainsford had to settle for a place among the substitutes and Gearoid Morrissey was ruled out through injury. Graham Cummins and Daire O’Connor were promoted to the starting line-up.

Paul Doyle with Graham Cummins UCD's Paul Doyle tangles with Graham Cummins of Cork City. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

City needed just over four minutes to gain the ascendancy. James Tilley’s in-swinging free-kick from the right found the head of Sean McLoughlin, before the ball was directed across the face of goal by Conor McCarthy. Sheppard’s close-range finish was far from emphatic, but it was enough nevertheless to beat UCD goalkeeper Conor Kearns.

Having been renowned for their robust style of play during John Caulfield’s tenure, there appeared to be more of a willingness from the Leesiders to keep the ball on the deck this evening. However, they weren’t reluctant to revert to a more direct approach as Plan B.

John Cotter’s side were unable to capitalise on two good opportunities to increase their lead shortly after Sheppard’s opener. Graham Cummins did well to steer McCarthy’s low cross goalwards, only for Kearns to save. McCarthy later blazed over from inside the six-yard box following a scramble in the UCD penalty area.

With captain Gary O’Neill the fulcrum of UCD’s possession-based strategy, their first sight of goal came on 24 minutes when O’Neill’s 20-yard strike stung Mark McNulty’s palms. 

The visitors’ best chance of a first-half equaliser came in the 37th minute. After a corner led to a bout of pinball in the Cork City box, Jason McClelland unleashed a shot that looked set to test McNulty until Conor McCormack intervened with an important block.

A one-goal lead for City at the interval was probably a fair reflection of the first half, but they went close twice more before referee Tomas Connolly sounded the half-time whistle.

Roy Keane attends the game Roy Keane was among the 2,249 attendance at Turner's Cross. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Showing up well as he faced his former club, Daire O’Connor’s corner from the right was headed back by Cummins. McLoughlin rose highest to meet the ball but couldn’t keep his effort down. Moments later, Cummins released O’Connor down the right. He played a neat one-two with Sheppard, before the ex-UCD winger dragged his first-time shot wide.

Six minutes after the restart, Cork City were given a major scare. A Gary O’Neill free-kick into the box found its way to Josh Collins via the head of his defensive partner Liam Scales. Collins beat McNulty with a half-volley but his attempt struck the underside of the crossbar, as the home support breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Instead of being back on level terms, UCD had their deficit doubled just a couple of minutes later. When Kevin O’Connor crossed from the left, Cummins got ahead of Collins to volley the ball past Kearns at the near post. 

The second goal effectively killed the contest, as a UCD comeback seemed a faint prospect. A 76th-minute Conor Davis strike that deflected wide was as close as they came to narrowing the gap.

Kevin O’Connor and Dan Casey both squandered late chances to make it 3-0, but those missed opportunities ultimately mattered little, as City now turn their attention to the visit of champions Dundalk next Friday.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Dan Casey, Sean McLoughlin, Garry Comerford; Conor McCormack, Kevin O’Connor; Daire O’Connor (Pierce Phillips, 82), James Tilley, Karl Sheppard; Graham Cummins (Matthew Gillam, 90 + 5)

UCD: Conor Kearns; Evan Farrell, Josh Collins, Liam Scales, Mark Dignam; Sean McDonald (Neil Farrugia, 58), Paul Doyle, Gary O’Neill, Jason McClelland (Richie O’Farrell, 72); Yoyo Mahdy, Conor Davis (Kevin Coffey, 87).

Referee: Tomas Connolly.

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Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Paul Dollery

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