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Stalemate in Inchicore as Cork City keep their seventh consecutive clean sheet

Honours even despite St Pat’s being reduced to 10 men.

St Patrick’s Athletic 0

Cork City 0

Paul Dollery reports from Richmond Park

THERE WERE NO goals last night in Inchicore between Cork City and St Patrick’s Athletic, who finished the game with 10 men following the dismissal of Lee Desmond.

A point was a fair result after a fiercely contested 90 minutes, as City maintained their impressive defensive record. The Leesiders now haven’t conceded a goal in 637 minutes of competitive football.

Johnny Dunleavy with Christy Fagan Cork City captain John Dunleavy is challenged by Christy Fagan of St Patrick's Athletic. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

St Pat’s drew away to Longford Town in their last league outing and manager Liam Buckley made two enforced changes for last night’s game, as Lee Desmond and Killian Brennan replaced Ian Bermingham (suspended) and Greg Bolger (ill). John Caulfield’s Cork were unchanged — for the first time this season — from last weekend’s win over Derry City.

Opportunities were scarce in the opening quarter and it wasn’t until the 25th minute that the game saw its first real chance, when City were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position wide on the left.

John Kavanagh’s excellent delivery found John O’Flynn, whose header appeared to be on its way into the bottom corner until Karl Sheppard’s audacious flick sent the ball over off the top of the crossbar.

Aaron Greene and Killian Brennan followed up with shots on target for St Pat’s, both of which were easily saved by City goalkeeper Mark McNulty, before the visitors carved out two more good opportunities.

In the 36th minute, Billy Dennehy sent O’Flynn through but his effort was pushed narrowly wide by St Pat’s goalkeeper Conor O’Malley. From the resultant corner, Sheppard saw his shot cleared off the line by Lee Desmond.

Kenny Browne with Kieran Djilali Cork City's Kieran Djilali rides a challenge from St Patrick's Athletic's Kenny Browne. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Approaching half-time, Cork would have been disappointed not to have edged ahead, but they had goalkeeper McNulty to thank for ensuring that they didn’t go in at the interval a goal behind.

Conan Byrne’s corner from the right found the unmarked Christy Fagan and his powerful header forced a brilliant save from McNulty, which kept the teams level at the break.

St Pat’s started the second-half brightly. Nine minutes in, Chris Forrester had a good shot saved by McNulty, and City right-back John Kavanagh put in a crucial block on a goal-bound effort from Aaron Greene shortly afterwards. The hosts also had a penalty claim waved away by referee Derek Tomney when Conan Byrne appeared to be brought down in the box by City defender Ross Gaynor.

There was a minor scare for Pat’s in the 63rd minute when O’Malley’s clearance was blocked by Sheppard but — much to the relief of the St Pat’s goalkeeper — the ball was diverted away from goal.

Christy Fagan will feel he should have given his side the lead in the 65th minute. Ger O’Brien’s inch-perfect cross from the right found the St Pat’s striker unmarked again in the City box, but Fagan was unable to keep his volley on target.

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Lee Desmond leaves the field St Patrick's Athletic defender Lee Desmond leaves the field after receiving a red card. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Billy Dennehy went close for City when he cut in from the right and fired a shot just wide, before Conan Byrne headed Ger O’Brien’s cross straight at McNulty.

In the 75th minute, St Pat’s were reduced to 10 men as Lee Desmond was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Dennehy. Anything less than a draw would have been harsh on the home side, and despite Cork City’s numerical advantage for the final 15 minutes, the Leesiders couldn’t make it count.

Billy Dennehy had a chance to win it for City late on but he failed to hit the target from close-range, as the sides settled for a share of the spoils.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Conor O’Malley; Ger O’Brien, Sean Hoare, Kenny Browne, Lee Desmond; Conan Byrne, Chris Forrester, James Chambers, Killian Brennan, Aaron Greene; Christy Fagan (Ciaran Kilduff, 90).

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; John Kavanagh, Alan Bennett, Darren Dennehy, Ross Gaynor; John Dunleavy (Gavan Holohan, 80), Liam Miller; Billy Dennehy, Garry Buckley, Karl Sheppard (Rob Lehane, 87); John O’Flynn (Kieran Djilali, 58).

Man-of-the-match: John Kavanagh.

Referee: Derek Tomney.

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Paul Dollery

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