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Morrissey fires Cork City back to the top and ends Dundalk's unbeaten run

The champions got the better of this meeting with their rivals thanks to the midfielder’s second-half volley.

Mark McNulty celebrates his side's first goal Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty celebrates after Gearoid Morrissey's goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cork City 1
Dundalk 0

Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross

SSE AIRTRICITY LEAGUE Premier Division champions Cork City returned to the top of the table this evening thanks to the narrowest of victories over Dundalk.

In front of 6,672 spectators at Turner’s Cross — including Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane — the Leesiders moved three points clear of their fierce rivals thanks to a superb volley from midfielder Gearoid Morrissey in the second half.

It was a first league defeat of the season for Dundalk, who topped the standings on goal difference going into tonight’s game. Stephen Kenny’s team hadn’t conceded away from home in the league in 2018, but Morrissey settled a feisty affair as City kept their 10th consecutive clean sheet in all competitions at Turner’s Cross, despite fielding an inexperienced back four.

Roy Keane Roy Keane watches on. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Both starting line-ups showed one change in personnel from their previous league outing. For the visitors, Chris Shields returned at midfield at the expense of Stephen O’Donnell. Shane Griffin, ruled out due to a groin injury, was replaced at left-back by Danny Kane for City.

Kane, a current Ireland U21 international, was making his league debut for the club following his winter move from Huddersfield Town. Alongside Colm Horgan, Conor McCarthy and Sean McLoughlin, he formed a defence which boasted just 23 league appearances between them and an average age of 21. Veteran centre-half Alan Bennett returned to the bench after missing the last 11 games through injury.

While City had the better of the early stages of this game, they failed to threaten Gary Rogers in the Dundalk goal. Graham Cummins and Gearoid Morrissey both had shots from just outside the box, and Karl Sheppard got his head on a Barry McNamee cross, but all three were well off target.

Dundalk eventually found their way into the game. Michael Duffy was central to everything positive they produced in attack, although City full-back Horgan gradually got to grips with the former Celtic winger. Arguably Stephen Kenny’s top performer so far this season, Duffy’s first significant contribution was an 18th-minute corner that found the head of Robbie Benson, whose attempt sailed over the crossbar.

Colm Horgan and Michael Duffy Cork City's Colm Horgan challenges Michael Duffy of Dundalk. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

However, Dundalk were only the width of a post away from taking the lead when Duffy next stood over a dead ball. His free-kick from the left found Dan Cleary, but the former Liverpool and Birmingham City defender’s goalbound header clipped the woodwork.

Duffy brought a good save out of Mark McNulty when he went for goal with a free-kick shortly afterwards. The former Northern Ireland U21 international then shaved the post with a curled effort after being set up by some good work from John Mountney.

Despite Dundalk growing in confidence, a typically physical first half between these two rivals ended goalless. Following their promising start, City struggled to conjure up many meaningful attacks as an isolated Graham Cummins cut a frustrated figure up front.

Dundalk displayed a couple of results of the attritional nature of the opening period when they emerged for the second half. Patrick Hoban sported a Terry Butcher-style bandage around his head as a result of a collision with Conor McCormack, while Sean Gannon had to be replaced by Stephen Folan. Gannon was booked in the fourth minute for a late tackle on Kane but the Dundalk right-back hurt himself in the process.

Sean Gannon is booked by Neil Doyle Sean Gannon is shown a yellow card. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Louth side continued to look more capable of breaking the deadlock after the restart. Duffy posed further problems for the champions, finding the head of Benson with a cross from the left. McNulty produced a superb save to deny the ex-UCD midfielder. Jamie McGrath then should have done better when he got on the end of a low cross from Mountney that City failed to clear, but he could only stab the ball wide from 12 yards out.

But when the breakthrough did arrive, it was City who went ahead. Garry Buckley had an immediate impact after being introduced for Jimmy Keohane. In the 59th minute, Buckley flicked Sheppard’s cross off the bar. However, Cleary’s headed clearance fell to Morrissey, whose brilliantly executed 20-yard volley flew past Rogers.


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Although they took the lead against the run of play, City had their tails up thereafter. First, Sheppard went close with a volley from McNamee’s cross. Moments later, Chris Shields was dispossessed in midfield by Buckley, allowing Sheppard to break quickly. However, the tireless City winger couldn’t get his long-range effort on target. McNamee then picked out Conor McCarthy with a free-kick but he headed over.

There was plenty of action at the other end too, as Dundalk continued to put the City defence under pressure in their search for an equaliser. Benson, substitute Ronan Murray and Sean Hoare were all unable to keep shots on target. Having opened the scoring for City, Morrissey later made a crucial defensive intervention when he blocked Murray’s header from Hoare’s throw-in.

Danny Kane and John Mountney Dundalk's John Mountney rides a challenge from Danny Kane of Cork City. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

As precious time ticked away for Dundalk, there was a nervy moment for the hosts in the 87th minute when Murray’s shot was spilled by McNulty. Nevertheless, the City goalkeeper recovered well to keep the Lilywhites at bay and earn three valuable points for John Caulfield’s side.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan, Conor McCarthy, Sean McLoughlin, Danny Kane; Conor McCormack, Gearoid Morrissey; Barry McNamee (Kieran Sadlier, 80), Jimmy Keohane (Garry Buckley, 58), Karl Sheppard; Graham Cummins (Josh O’Hanlon, 88).

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon (Stephen Folan, HT), Dan Cleary, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; John Mountney (Dylan Connolly, 82), Jamie McGrath (Ronan Murray, 66), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.

Referee: Neil Doyle

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Paul Dollery

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