Cork City to face Dundalk in FAI Cup decider after victory in Bray
Bray Wanderers 0 Cork City 1
DANNY Morrissey’s second half goal downed Bray Wanderers and booked Cork City’s place in an FAI Cup decider with Dundalk that was the best case scenario for the organisers ahead of this weekend’s semi finals.
It means that the Aviva Stadium showpiece on November 8 will feature the top two teams in the country and offer Cork a chance for revenge after losing their final day decider in the league twelve months ago.
John Caulfield’s charges are on course for a distant second placed finish this time around, but they now have the opportunity to scupper Dundalk’s double dream and end this year on a high.
The Leesiders were made to work hard by a dogged Bray outfit that have showed immense character on the pitch in a campaign marred by off the field turmoil.
But Caulfield, who signed a new contract earlier this week, was helped across the line by a solitary Morrissey goal in a dominant period after half-time.
The substantial band of travelling fans then had to endure a nervous conclusion as City failed to add a second and then had to withstand a late rally from Bray which nearly yielded an equaliser and a replay with sub Emeka Omwubiko’s close range volley kept out by Mark McNulty.
Regular observers of Bray are used to low scoring games and with the added tension that tends to go with a cup semi final, it was no surprise that this encounter followed the pattern.
Mick Cooke set out his side with the intention of being difficult to beat and large parts of the first half consisted of Cork spending time in the Bray half without having the nous to open up their organised hosts.
Caulfield set out with a team featuring four players that would be comfortable in the centre of defence, with Dan Murray again cast in a new role as a holding midfielder. He ended up doing a lot of sweeping and spreading the play to the full backs as the visitors waited for Bray concentration to slip and gaps to appear.
That only happened once before the interval when left back Ross Gaynor collected a clever Billy Dennehy chip and shot straight at Peter Cherrie before squaring the rebound to Karl Sheppard who scooped over the bar when he had the freedom to do better.
Bray may have spent sustained spells on the back foot but, at the halfway point, their fans could argue that they had fared better in terms of creating genuine openings.
An early Adam Wixted break culminated with a dragback that was met with an Adam Hanlon left footer that Mark McNulty blocked to safety. Then, after Sheppard’s miss, Ryan McEvoy was guilty of profligacy after a Chris Lyons run that teed up the midfielder for a strike on goal.
Cork began to press following the restart, however, with Morrissey firing into the side netting when he breached Bray’s offside trap. Home stopper Peter Cherrie was then called into action to push a deceiving attempt from Garry Buckley over the bar.
The Leesiders were turning the screw and they got their reward on the hour mark when Morrissey again nipped away from the Bray rearguard to collect a flick from Buckley and clip the ball past Cherrie into the bottom corner. Unfortunately, the injury plagued striker Morrissey appeared to pull his hamstring in doing so and immediately signalled that he would be unable to continue.
John O’Flynn was summoned as Cork pressed for the insurance goal and his instinctive header drew another acrobatic stop from Cherrie. But the away side lost their impetus and invited dangerous pressure as the chequered flag approached.
Scattered defending gave Bray a little ray of hope and experienced centre half Alan Bennett marked his 34th birthday by getting in the right place to block a pair of Chris Lyons attempts as City lived on the edge.
When Graham Kelly’s piledriver fizzed past the post and McNulty was well placed to keep out sprightly sub Omwubiko, the Cork masses could finally breathe easily.
Bray Wanderers: Cherrie, Douglas, McNally, Cooney, Barker; Kelly; Hanlon (Omwubiko 80), Fitzpatrick (Scully 75), McEvoy, Wixted (McGlynn 65); Lyons
Cork City: McNulty, Dunleavy, Bennett, D Dennehy, Gaynor; Murray, Miller (Holohan 81); B Dennehy (O’Connor 75), Buckley, Sheppard; Morrissey (O’Flynn 60)
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)