Cork City overhaul St Pats to keep the title race going for another 48 hours at least
Cork City 3 St Patrick's Athletic 1
Cork City came from behind to overcome St Patrick's Athletic at Turner's Cross to delay Dundalk's celebrations for at least another day.
It had all the feel of an end-of-season game with nothing to play for - the attendance of 1,880 was far lower than what might be expected for such a clash - but there is still a minimal chance of the title coming to Leeside, and the three points here ensure that the Lilywhites have to beat Bohemians on Sunday to secure the three-in-a-row.
Defeat would have made official what looks inevitable and when the hosts were frustrated early on before Conan Byrne put Pat's in front, there was the sense that the race might grind to a halt.
Having suffered a 3-1 defeat to Pat's at Richmond Park on Monday night, effectively ending their hopes of catching Stephen Kenny's side, City reconfigured their team. Back in midfield was Gearoid Morrissey while the inclusion of Michael McSweeney at right-back allowed Steven Beattie to return his more natural habitat on the wing.
Up front, Mark O'Sullivan replaced Sean Maguire with Danny Morrissey supporting him, and it was the centre-forward who had the best early chances. From a Kevin O'Connor corner in the 11th minute, O'Sullivan got his head to the ball but Brendan Clarke saved well and from the rebound the sequence was repeated before Pat's half-cleared as far as Alan Bennett, who shot well over.
From another dead ball, Karl Sheppard did divert the ball home but referee Paul Tuite ruled the 'goal' out for a push.
Pat's hadn't been without opportunities of their own in the early stages, with Christy Fagan wide with a low shot from Graham Kelly's pass while Sam Verdon - scorer of a great goal in Inchicore on Monday - shooting over.
They had the lead on 23 minutes as Byrne curled a lovely shot beyond the reach of Mark McNulty from a free, but City's response was positive. McSweeney used his pace to good effect on the right in the 27th minute minute and Sheppard got his heel to the cross as the ball went behind him but it was just wide.
The wait for an equaliser wasn't long, though there was some good fortune attached, Clarke put under pressure by a bad backpass, allowing O'Sullivan in to sidestep him and finish from a yard.
Byrne might have put Pat's back in front but he shot into the side-netting and Sean Hoare had a long-ranger which whizzed past the post shortly before half-time.
After the interval, however, City took control. Sean Maguire was brought on for Danny Morrissey for the second half and he made it 2-1 on 49 minutes with a glancing header from a Beattie corner.
Four minutes later the lead was doubled, Beattie the scorer this time after Beattie had set up O'Sullivan, who sent a low ball over from the left. From there, City wouldn't be denied the points, Beattie and O'Sullivan close to making it four.
At the death, Rory Feely might have had a consolation for Pat's but McNulty saved smartly.
CORK CITY: McNulty; McSweeney, Bennett, Mulcahy, O’Connor; Bolger, G Morrissey (Healy 55); Beattie, D Morrissey (Maguire half-time), Sheppard (Turner 70); O’Sullivan.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O’Brien, Feely, Hoare, Bermingham; Verdon, Desmond (Lunney 21); Byrne, Kelly, McGrath (Kinsella 77); Fagan.
Referee: P Tuite (Dublin).