Dooley delivers for Cork to trim the champions lead at the top to the minimum
Cork City 1 Dundalk 0
Cork City cut Dundalk’s lead to a point at the top of the Premier Division thanks to Stephen Dooley’s first-half strike at Turners Cross.
This was Dundalk's first loss away from home in the last 27 games, a record that stretched all the way back to September 2014, while the defending champions also tasted their second reversal of the season – both to last year’s runners-up.
Despite having Chris Shields sent off five minutes from the break, Dundalk pushed hard for an equaliser and almost took a point, but Ciaran Kilduff's header was cleared off the line in the last minute by Sean Maguire.
After a bright start from the home side, Dundalk began to grow into the game, but just as they began to express themselves in attack they were hit with a super counter-attack goal from Dooley after 25 minutes.
It was a lovely flick from Maguire on halfway that sent the winger on his way, and after a neat step-over to lose Andrew Browne, Dooley finished accurately across Gary Rogers.
With Darren Meenan bright for Dundalk, the champions continued to press, and just after the half-hour mark David McMillan came close to getting on the end of the winger’s cross, but the City defence smothered his chance.
Immediately Cork broke down the other end and another mazy run from Dooley should have produced goal number two, but Shields got back to deny Maguire.
Dundalk were looking for their eighth straight win away from home in this year’s league, but their challenge took a huge blow five minutes from the break when Shields was shown a straight red for a tackle on Steven Beattie.
Shields lunged into the tackle after he failed to control possession, but Beattie’s over-reaction on the ground didn’t aid the Dundalk player’s case.
City were good value for their 1-0 interval lead and they came within inches of doubling their advantage in the first minute after the break. A good run down the right saw Beattie in acres of space and he picked out his captain Greg Bolger, but his shot drifted just wide of Rogers’ goal.
The home side continued to push on in search of a second goal and Alan Bennett was the next to come close for John Caulfield’s side, but his back post header failed to find its target in the 57th minute.
Playing his first game for six weeks, Dundalk captain Stephen McDonnell was lucky to escape a booking in the early minutes, but he did see yellow early in the second-half for a lunge at Maguire.
However, the Galway native was still at the heart of all of Dundalk’s positive play and he continued to dictate play.
But his side looked dead and buried when Cork were awarded a penalty in the 66th minute following Boyle’s trip on Maguire. Dooley was handed the responsibility but he blasted well over the bar and the City lead stayed at one goal.
Michael McSweeney saw his shot easily saved by Rogers 13 minutes from time as City continued to leave goal chances unclaimed, and 11 minutes from time Dundalk had a great chance to force a draw. Ronan Finn was fouled on the edge of the area, but Dane Massey’s free crashed into the wall and was cleared.
But a better chance was still to come a minute from time but substitute Ciaran Kilduff’s header was cleared off the line by Maguire and City held on for the win.
CORK CITY – McNulty; McSweeney, Bennett, Browne, O’Connor; Morrissey, Bolger, Holohan (Buckley 61); Beattie (O’Sullivan 83), Maguire (Healy 92), Dooley.
DUNDALK – Rogers; Barrett, Boyle, Gartland, Massey; Shields, O’Donnell; Meenan (Benson 68), Finn, Horgan (McEleney 71); McMillan (Kilduff 49).
Ref – R Rogers (Dublin).