Drogheda delight as O'Connor sinks Cork
Drogheda United 2 Cork City 1
DROGHEDA United provided the biggest shock of the League of Ireland calendar thus far as Paul Doolin's Cork City lost ground in the title challenge on a disastrous return to his former stomping ground last night.
The Leeside outfit, who have seemingly emerged from examinership in much better circumstances than their Louth rivals, were thoroughly outplayed in a superb performance from the league's bottom club.
With a court case hanging over them and now two defeats in a row, the Rebel Army's march is certainly hitting some roadblocks as the midway point of the season approaches.
While it was a great evening for the fans in South Louth, it was not a great evening for football, particularly in a poor opening half.
However, the few home supporters in attendance were treated to the Boynesiders' best performance of the year.
They were in control for the entire opening 45 minutes, belying the gulf between the two sides. But while their season has been plagued by an inability to threaten in the final third, Alan Mathews' side found the perfect solution with a well-worked set-piece after nine minutes.
The excellent James Chambers whipped in a sweetly-struck corner and former UCD man, Conor Kenna, connected with a perfect header, leaving a number of Cork players on the line kicking at thin air.
It was a thoroughly deserved lead for the the Drogs, but in the context of the Leesiders' first-half performance, it didn't come as a huge surprise.
And but for a last-ditch foul, for which Greg O'Halloran was lucky to just receive a yellow card, Doolin's side may have gone further behind on 35 minutes after Paul Crowley almost capitalised on a mistake by the Cork defence before being hacked down outside the box.
Following another mistake in an error-strewn first-half performance, Jamie Duffy cleaned up before setting Shane Barrett free, but Dan Murray earned redemption with a tidy block.
Strangely Murray was proving Cork's biggest threat in the second half as the visitors began to get a grasp on the game.
Around the hour mark the big centre-half rattled the crossbar with a strike straight from the Matt Le Tissier manual.
Barely a minute later, the captain brought his side back on level terms.
Colin Healy drifted in a free-kick and, after Paul Skinner parried Guntars Silagailas's close-range header, Murray was there to tuck it away for what appeared to be a precious point in the circumstances.
But there was more drama to come.
With just 10 minutes remaining the game reached a frantic pace and the hosts executed a perfect counter attack when Duffy latched onto Brian King's long ball.
He looked to be clear through, but Danny Murphy recovered to poke the ball from the winger-cum-striker's toe.
It couldn't have fallen sweeter for Duffy's former Dundalk team-mate and substitute David O'Connor and he rolled the ball past the outstretched fingers of Connor and in off the keeper's right-hand post to send the home crowd into raptures and their former manager home pointless.
Drogheda -- Skinner, Chambers, Kenna, McNally, Clarke; Duffy, Crowley, King, Shiels, Martin (O'Connor 60); Barrett.
Cork -- Connor, Sullivan, O'Halloran, Murray, Murphy; Kuduzovic, Lordan, Healy, O'Donnell (Silagailis 52), Dennehy (O'Connor 77); Behan.
Ref-- D Hanney (Dublin).