We went minute-by-minute as Dundalk and Cork City clashed at Oriel Park.
Hello! And welcome to our live coverage of this evening’s top-of-the-table clash in the SSE Airtricity League between Cork City and Dundalk.
It’s the first day in over two weeks that there’s no World Cup action on, but don’t fret! Tonight’s game at Oriel Park has all the makings of a seriously good night’s entertainment, for a host of different reasons.
Firstly, it’s the first game since the mid-season break. Players, managers and backroom staff earned a deserved week off but are back from their holidays fit and fighting for the second half of the season (thank God we had the World Cup to keep us ticking over in-between).
Secondly, tonight is another instalment in what has become the defining fixture in League of Ireland football over the last four seasons.
It’s clear for all to see that is no love lost between Dundalk and Cork.
Both teams are ferociously competitive and have won every single Premier Division title and FAI Cup since 2015. As such, tonight sees Irish football’s two best teams face off with just a single point separating first from second — the tension!
Before the mid-season break Dundalk racked up an incredibly impressive eight (yes, eight) consecutive wins. Were Stephen Kenny’s men to win tonight they would reclaim top spot, as they go in search of their fourth title in five seasons.
Cork, however, occupy first place for a reason. John Caulfield’s men denied the Lilywhites the chance to make it a historic four titles in a row last season, and snatched the FAI Cup for a second year running too.
The Rebel Army have defended their title impressively so far this season with 18 wins in 23 games. They won’t be letting go of top spot easily and will put up a serious fight at Oriel Park tonight.
Trust me, this is going to be good.
Tonight’s game is live on RTÉ 2, with kick-off due in about 45 minutes at 7.35pm. Players and managers from both teams have just arrived at Oriel Park on a radiant day for football.
Some pre-game reading material ahead of kick-off:
- Jamie McGrath: ‘The boys were saying they saw a picture of me lifting in the gym last year and I was a scrawny lad’
- ‘At this level it’s about winning’ – Cork City shrug off criticism ahead of Dundalk duel
- A tense title race, battling for Europe and avoiding the drop – League of Ireland mid-term report cards
So, today’s teams are:
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Krisztian Adorjan, Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy; Pat Hoban
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan, Alan Bennett, Shane McLouglin, Shane Griffin; Gearoid Morrissey, Conor McCormack; Jimmy Keohane, Barry McNamee; Kieran Sadlier; Graham Cummins
It’s an absolutely sweltering evening at Oriel Park, but a cracker nonetheless for a game of ball. Only a point separates theses sides in the table, but who’s going to come out on top tonight? Let us know below!
KICK-OFF: We’re underway as the sun continues to beat down at Oriel Park!
A cagey opening five minutes here. The ball has been fizzed end-to-end but you get the sense both teams are still sussing each other out, with a lack of quality in both’s final ball in attack so far.
Chance! Jimmy Keohane rises high between Chris Shields and Brian Gartland to fire a decent header on goal. The chance was made possible thanks to an initial clever header before from Kieran Sadlier, but Keohane could only dip his own effort just on top of the crossbar and over.
Sadlier tries his luck with an ambitious free-kick struck from the guts of 40 yards out. He really leathered it with his right boot, but the chance flies just narrowly wide of the post under the careful watch of Gary Rodgers in goal.
Michael Duffy gets Dundalk’s first chance away at the other end. Pat Hoban knocks the ball down with a neat header, with Duffy striking low towards the bottom corner before the ball flies just wide once again.
The game’s first yellow card is shown to Dundalk’s Krisztian Adorjan for a rash, late challenge in the middle of the pitch as the midfielder was vying for possession of a loose ball.
Well then, Cork level it up with a yellow card of their own as former Galway United captain Colm Horgan flies into Michael Duffy. Duffy seemed to have the better of his marker there down the left flank and Horgan was content to bring him down and prevent an attack.
Dundalk are getting a lot of success in the final third now. Pat Hoban and Michael Duffy exchange a pair of one-two’s inside the box with real ease, however Mark McNulty just managed to pounce from his line to stop the attack dead in its tracks.
The Lilywhites are applying a lot of pressure in attack now and have visibly upped their tempo over the course of the last 10 minutes.
After a bright start by City, Dundalk have got on top now and are applying pressure in attack— Cork's RedFM Sport (@BigRedBench) June 29, 2018
The game pauses for a quick break now as players from both teams take a couple of moments to douse themselves in water to try and stay cool in this blazing heat. Fierce hot out there today, it has to be said.
Nothing to separate the sides after half an hour.
Good work from Duffy down the left sees a dangerous cross swung into the City box, but Shane McLoughlin did really well to recover and head it to safety. Dundalk again maintaining the upper hand but Stephen Kenny’s side just can’t seem to find a breakthrough.
Chance! Ooooof that was close. Robbie Benson takes possession 30 yards from goal before sizing up a chance — he strikes from distance beautifully but, his effort flies just over the top of Mark McNulty’s crossbar. Very close.
Gearoid Morrissey becomes the second Cork City player to receive a yellow card this evening. The midfielder was penalised for an initial foul, but was booked for kicking the ball away as Robbie Benson attempted to take a quick free-kick.
Barry McNamee very nearly breaks the deadlock as the break approaches. Kieran Sadlier provided a pinpoint cross into the box, but McNamee could only produce a tame effort on his left boot which bounced into the welcoming arms of Gary Rogers.
The Cork forward should have done better there.
Close! The game is really springing into life as Pat Hoban heads narrowly wide of the bottom corner. He rose highest to meet Michael Duffy’s corner kick, but just couldn’t provide the killer blow. Chances aplenty at both ends.
There will be two minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the first half.
HALF-TIME: DUNDALK 0-0 CORK CITY
Well, what did we make of that? It’s been cagey in some parts and very expansive in others. Dundalk have maintained the upper hand in large periods and Michael Duffy has certainly had his stamp all over this game.
There have not been too many clear-cut chances for John Caulfield’s champions, but they have held their own so far and are succeeding in shutting out the best efforts of Pat Hoban and Robbie Benson to break the deadlock.
More action coming up shortly…
Level here at the break and it's typical top-of-the-league fare. Dundalk have edged the play but lacked the killer ball in the final third. Pat Hoban closest to breaking the deadlock with a header, but Gary Rogers has also had to make a couple of saves. 0-0 #DFCvCCFC #CmonTheTown— Dundalk FC (@DundalkFC) June 29, 2018
SECOND-HALF: We’re back underway at Oriel Park for another 45 minutes!
GOAL! DUNDALK 1-0 CORK CITY (ADORJAN 46)
GOAAAAAAL!!! We have lift-off at Oriel Park less than a minute into the second half. The goal was made possible thanks to some tenacious work by Michael Duffy. He fed the ball sideways to Krisztian Adorjan who did brilliantly to sweep the ball across his body and into Gary Rogers’ bottom corner with pinpoint accuracy. It’s 1-0 to the Lilywhites!
It’s been an electric start to the second period as the goal seemed to have taken Cork by complete surprise. It really did come from no-where but now both sides are really going at it. City know if they don’t get a result tonight they will lose their grip on first as Dundalk seek their ninth victory on the bounce.
The Dundalk supporters aren’t impressed at Alan Bennett. The defender clashed with Pat Hoban competing for possession and it looked like there may have been a high elbow from the defender. Nevertheless, referee Rob Harvey does not produce a booking and play resumes.
Hungarian midfielder Krisztian Adorjan sure did enjoy that one. His brilliant strike has Dundalk ahead and heading top of the table unless Cork can produce a response.
More Dundalk pressure inside the box. Michael Duffy gets to the byline yet again, and his cross is punched only marginally clear by Mark McNulty. Marc Griffin puts the ball out for a corner and the cross is subsequently caught and booted clear by the Cork goalkeeper. It’s all action.
GOAL! DUNDALK 1-1 CORK CITY (O’HANLON 66)
GOAAAAAAAL. We’re all level at Oriel Park! Alan Bennett sends a dipping volley into the box which is nodded into the bottom corner by substitute Josh O’Hanlon. The striker is only on the pitch a matter of moments and has made an immediate impact to draw his side level. It’s 1-1 between the top two.
Dundalk 1— Mark McCadden (@markmccadden) June 29, 2018
Cork City 1 (O'Hanlon 66)
On as a sub just moments earlier, O'Hanlon heads the Leesiders level. Dundalk players looking for off-side, Benson booked for protesting. Any VARs out there care to shed light?
We’re all set up for an intriguing grandstand finish with 20 minutes remaining here. The momentum has swung in Cork’s favour and they could sense the chance to grab all three points here, as a result extending their lead at the top of the table to four points.
Substitution for Dundalk: Ronan Murray replaces goalscorer Krisztian Adorjan.
SAVE. And what a save! Gary Rogers keeps Dundalk in this with a superb stop which denies Karl Sheppard from close range. The Cork forward was in one-on-one but the Dundalk goalkeeper did magnificently to tip his powerful strike onto the post.
Substitution for Dundalk: Dylan Connolly replaces Jamie McGrath.
Ronan Murray with a really good chance to put his side ahead from a dead ball situation. Dundalk earned a free-kick 25 yards out from goal, Murray fancied his chances but the striker could only hit the wall with a poor strike.
At the other end Kieran Sadlier breaks away with speed and stamina down the right channel. He sets himself up for a strike at goal, takes aim for the bottom right corner but Gary Rogers did really well to get down early and save.
Duffy with another pinpoint delivery which Pat Hoban rises high to meet, but the forward’s header just narrowly misses the target. Both sides are really going for this late on, and you can’t blame them one bit. The result of tonight’s game could be absolutely pivotal in deciding who is crowned champions in October.
Dundalk pinging cross after cross into the danger zone but Cork are managing to keep their best efforts at bay. John Caulfield is preparing to make another switch late on here as Barry McNamee goes down holding his leg. We cautiously approach stoppage time — are we going to see a late, great winner?
There will be five minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.
GOAL! DUNDALK 2-1 CORK CITY (MCLOUGHLIN OWN GOAL 92)
GOAAAAAAL! Dundalk may have snatched this right at the death! Patrick Hoban looked to be claiming it, but in fact it was an own goal off Sean McLoughlin inside the box. The defender beats his own goalkeeper following a dangerous cross into the penalty area from the right. Late drama at Oriel Park and it’s 2-1 to the Lilywhites!
Cork are throwing everything forward with a minute to go but it looks like McLoughlin’s own goal could well be the difference here. Dundalk pushed and pushed in the dying stages and have been rewarded for their efforts. Only a few seconds remaining now.
FULL-TIME: DUNDALK 2-1 CORK CITY