Frustration for Saints as Cork get their point
St Pat's Athletic 0 Cork City 0
When Cork City come to town, goals are rarely on the menu. John Caulfield's side remain unbeaten after this scoreless draw, travelling down the M7 after a game that finished with the same result as their trip to Shamrock Rovers last month.
Just two out of their 12 goals this season have come on their travels and they were both late strikes in matches that appeared to be heading towards stalemate.
They were on the offensive in the dying stages here after St Patrick's Athletic defender Lee Desmond was sent off with 15 minutes remaining, the fourth red card in as many games for Liam Buckley's charges.
Despite holding on with the numerical disadvantage, the Saints will not be happy with this result as they now sit eight points behind leaders Dundalk.
This was a feisty battle, if not a free-flowing one. Both managers owed thanks to their goalkeepers for fine saves that kept things level at the interval. Saints netminder Conor O'Malley, deputising for the injured Brendan Clarke, endured a few difficult moments gathering crosses in the opening half hour.
However, he was up to the task when Cork's best move of the half culminated with Billy Dennehy releasing John O'Flynn inside the area with his right-footer pushed behind by the fingertips of the young keeper.
Karl Sheppard might have done better in a scramble from the subsequent corner as a Cork group with a reputation for a direct approach found joy by demonstrating they can cause problems on the deck.
Still, they were pegged back onto the edge of their own area before the half-time cuppa and a spell of Pat's pressure created the room for Conan Byrne to swing in a cross that was met by the head of Christy Fagan with Mark McNulty acrobatically keeping it out.
This was a niggly affair that threatened to boil over on a couple of occasions. Killian Brennan went down theatrically as Liam Miller attempted to kick the ball from under his legs and, while the ex-Irish international refused to take the bait and was perplexed by the home midfielder's reaction, his team-mate Karl Sheppard went into the book for angrily telling the Drogheda native what he thought of him.
The Dubliners, missing Greg Bolger through illness, sought to match Cork in the aggression stakes, but they also needed to create room for playmaker Chris Forrester who was tracked by the versatile John Dunleavy, operating as a defensive midfielder for this test.
Forrester enjoys the central challenge and his invention was a feature of the period after the resumption; his persistence crafted a long-range shooting opportunity that McNulty smothered before Billy Dennehy's similarly speculative attempt at the other end fizzed wide.
At the hour mark, a genuine chance presented itself and the natives were shocked when Fagan, normally the right man for the job, fluffed his lines with plenty of space to pick his spot from Ger O'Brien's delivery.
The Saints were pressing for the win at that juncture but the dismissal of Desmond for a second booking, bringing an end to his personal battle with Dennehy, checked those expectations. To their credit, they remained positive and forged half-chances before the tide inevitably turned.
Caulfield withdrew Dunleavy for the creative mind of Gavan Holohan and later sprung Rob Lehane but they were bereft of inspiration in the final third and can have few complaints about the predictable outcome.
ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: O'Malley, O'Brien, Hoare, Browne, Desmond; Chambers, Brennan; Byrne, Forrester, Greene; Fagan (Kilduff 90).
CORK CITY: McNulty, Kavanagh, Bennett, D Dennehy, Gaynor; Dunleavy (Holohan 80), Miller; B Dennehy, Buckley, Sheppard (Lehane 87); O'Flynn (Djilali 57).
REF: D Tomney (Dublin).