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Caulfield sent to the stand, but Cork rally to earn a point at Dundalk

Cork had lost five in a row against the champions today.

Johnny Dunleavy gets an earful from Mark McNulty and Dan Murray.
Johnny Dunleavy gets an earful from Mark McNulty and Dan Murray.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Dundalk 1

Cork City 1

THE TITLE RACE didn’t so much blow wide open as it did merely remain interesting at Oriel Park, as Cork City held Dundalk to a 1-1 draw in a match that John Caulfield watched mostly from the stands.

Going into this one, the champions had won five on the bounce against the Leesiders and were unbeaten in seven. It was quite the remarkable record considering it’s Cork who are their closest challengers again this season after last year’s final day decider.

Richie Towell’s early penalty was cancelled out by a first half header by Mark O’Sullivan in a game that in truth lacked the quality or spark seen in previous high octane encounters. That’s not to say there wasn’t needle. It was in plentiful supply.

After their Euro exertions in midweek, Dundalk – for their part – were sprightly early on. Despite the visitors seeing much of the ball and passing well, they played with an intent that suggested putting Wednesday’s disappointment to bed was on their minds.

In the 10th minute, Richie Towell coolly dispatched a penalty to hand them the lead. After Daryl Horgan and Darren Meenan worked a short corner, the latter dinked in a cross that looked set to be headed in by Brian Gartland before the defender was crudely flung aside by Alan Bennett. Referee Neil Doyle showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

The goal was Towell’s sixth goal in his last six games against Cork. The league’s top scorer has now put away four penalties this term alone.

It got worse for Cork, as John Caulfield soon found himself banished to the stands. After first airing his grievance when Doyle awarded a free kick for a foul on Sean Gannon, Caulfield was enraged when Towell went down in a heap after a Gavan Holohan challenge.

It was a high foot by the ex-Drogheda man and certainly warranted a yellow card. When Caulfield aired his displeasure, Doyle ushered him behind the dugout.

John Caulfield Caulfield was sent to the stand during the first half. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

On 38 minutes, Cork were level. When Andy Boyle fouled Steven Beattie out on the right, Holohan sent in a free-kick and O’Sullivan got away from his marker to power a superb header into the top corner, leaving Gary Rogers – despairing dive and all – helpless to stop it.

The second half was a major disappointment, with neither side creating much in the way of clear cut chances. Cork were certainly missing a spark while Dundalk – perhaps leggy after recent exertions – were a little pedestrian going forward. When sub John Mountney crossed for another sub Stephen O’Donnell late on, the unmarked midfielder could only glance his header wide.

Cork lost their captain John Dunleavy to injury late on and although Dundalk maintain their six point lead at the top of the division, they may be disappointed they couldn’t put the visitors away. The imminent signing of Ciaran Kilduff might add a new goalscoring edge to their late season.

If you discount the Leinster Senior Cup, this is now the first time that Dundalk have gone three competitive games without a win under Stephen Kenny. Still, a six point cushion at the top of the league renders that all relative.

 

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Chris Shields, Richie Towell, Ronan Finn (Stephen O’Donnell 61), Darren Meenan, Daryl Horgan (Jake Kelly, 83), David McMillan (John Mountney, 54).

Substitutes: Gabriel Sava, Paddy Barratt, Shane Grimes, Kurtis Byrne.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty, John Dunleavy (Michael McSweeney, 64), Alan Bennett, Dan Murray, Kevin O’Connor, Steven Beattie, Gavan Holohan (Danny Morrissey, 74), Liam Miller (Colin Healy, 89), Garry Buckley, Mark O’Sullivan, Karl Sheppard.

Substitutes: Alan Smith, John O’Flynn, Stephen Folan, Liam Kearney.

REFEREE: Neil Doyle

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sean Gannon (Dundalk)

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