Delaney on the double as City come from behind against 10-man Rovers
The Premier Division leaders maintained their 15-point lead at the top of the Premier Division table.

Ryan Delaney celebrates scoring their third goal Cathal Noonan / INPHO Ryan Delaney celebrates after scoring his second goal. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Cork City 4
Shamrock Rovers 1

Paul Dollery reports from Turner’s Cross

RYAN DELANEY HAS played a key role in Cork City’s undefeated start to the season but the importance of the central defender to their bid for a first Premier Division title in 12 years has never been illustrated as clearly as it was this evening.

Delaney scored twice as City recorded their 15th win in 16 league games in 2017. However, the pace-setters were forced to come from behind against Shamrock Rovers after Trevor Clarke gave the visitors a 16th-minute lead in front of a 5,135 crowd at Turner’s Cross.

Delaney equalised for City just before the break and Rovers’ hopes of leaving Cork with a result were hampered just two minutes after the resumption when David McAllister was dismissed. A spectacular strike from Gearoid Morrissey put John Caulfield’s side in front, before Delaney and his defensive partner Johnny Dunleavy added the extras.

Delaney’s loan spell from Burton Albion is due to expire in July but Caulfield is hoping to tie up a permanent deal for the 20-year-old Wexford native. The City boss will be even more eager to complete that piece of business after his contribution tonight.

Trevor Clarke Cathal Noonan / INPHO Trevor Clarke celebrates after giving Shamrock Rovers the lead. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

City, who lead Dundalk at the top of the table by 15 points, are now unbeaten in 20 competitive games, a run which stretches back to their win over the Lilywhites in last November’s FAI Cup final.

A frustrating first half for City this evening saw them dominate in terms of possession and chances created, but their superiority wasn’t reflected in the scoreline.

Rovers’ only opportunity of the opening period came in the 16th minute and Clarke capitalised on it emphatically. His diagonal run took him away from Jimmy Keohane and, from the edge of the box, the 19-year-old former Middlesbrough trainee unleashed a ferocious left-footed shot that beat Mark McNulty and went in off the underside of the crossbar.

It was all one-way traffic thereafter as City sought to respond. David Webster denied Sean Maguire from close range, Ryan Delaney had a header cleared off the line by Ronan Finn and Stephen Dooley forced Kevin Horgan to make a good save.

However, the home side levelled matters on the stroke of half-time. Delaney managed to get his head on another Bolger free-kick from the left but this time the defender steered his effort past Horgan.

Kevin O’Connor and Trevor Clarke Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cork City's Kevin O'Connor tangles with Trevor Clarke of Shamrock Rovers. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

City would have expected their dominance to resume after the restart in their pursuit of the lead. The size of the task facing Rovers to withstand the pressure from the league leaders grew significantly just two minutes in when they were reduced to 10 men.

After a needlessly reckless tackle from David McAllister on Sean Maguire, referee Jim McKell produced a straight red card for the Hoops midfielder. In an effort to fill the void in the centre, Stephen Bradley responded by replacing striker Graham Burke with midfielder Ryan Connolly.

While City continued to control the game, Rovers weren’t without chances. Shortly after Simon Madden cleared a Delaney header off the line, Brandon Miele forced McNulty to save from a free-kick and Clarke blasted wide after being played through by Miele.

City went ahead on 66 minutes when Morrissey, who was returning to the side following an injury, beat Horgan from 25 yards with a superb effort. Ronan Finn went close to delivering an immediate response for Rovers but his half-volley went just over the crossbar.

Delaney gave City some breathing space with seven minutes remaining when he scored from a rebound after substitute Shane Griffin had a header saved by Horgan. Dunleavy headed in Griffin’s corner two minutes into added time to put some gloss on the result.

James McKell shows a red card to David McAllister Cathal Noonan / INPHO David McCallister is shown a red card. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Jimmy Keohane, John Dunleavy, Ryan Delaney, Kevin O’Connor (Shane Griffin, 70); Conor McCormack, Karl Sheppard (John Kavanagh, 90), Greg Bolger (Achille Campion, 61), Gearoid Morrissey, Stephen Dooley; Sean Maguire.

Shamrock Rovers: Kevin Horgan; Simon Madden, David Webster, Roberto Lopes, Luke Byrne; Trevor Clarke (Darren Meenan, 89), David McAllister, Ronan Finn, Brandon Miele; Graham Burke (Ryan Connolly, 50); Gary Shaw (Michael O’Connor, 83).

Referee: Jim McKell.

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