Maguire makes waves for double-dreaming Cork
On a day when the Dubs paraded the Sam Maguire trophy around the city, the men from Cork had a very good day out in the capital, a convincing win over St Patrick's Athletic securing another trip up to Dublin next month for the FAI Cup final.
St Patrick's Athletic 1 Cork City 3
There was even the added bonus of a draw in the other semi-final, meaning another game in the already-clogged fixture list for Dundalk, Cork's rivals in the title race.
Because a league and cup double is still very much the aim for Cork following this semi-final victory over St Pat's which effectively ended the season for the Dublin side.
"We have closed the gap on Dundalk, whether we can take a trophy remains to be seen but I feel we have a much better chance this season," said a delighted City boss John Caulfield.
While attention focuses on the possible international future for Dundalk star Daryl Horgan, Cork striker Sean Maguire underlined his class yet again with a two-goal contribution in front of a poor semi-final crowd of 1,866 - Maguire now on a season tally of 24 goals.
Cork rejected a bid of €175,000 from a Belgian club in the summer, City demanding a figure well in excess of that, but on this form, it will be very hard for City to retain Maguire's services into 2017, his two goals showing all his instincts.
"At the start of the season he was nowhere, he came into us, his training was phenomenal, he keeps his feet on the ground - which is very hard for a young man to do," said Caulfield.
"Rejection early on at West Ham has probably done him well, some fellahs can fall into a trap, lose their confidence and get disillusioned, but he came to the right club, he has done phenomenally well, he's a brilliant guy, a pleasure to be with every day. But to be fair to the team there's a fantastic spirit and attitude among them, they are all good lads and I can't speak highly enough of them."
While Cork march on to a second successive cup final appearance, the season is over for Pat's and the loyalty of their supporters will be tested with a series of nothing games in the league for the next month.
The Saints can have little complaints as, while they made a game of it in the first half and were level at the break, Cork dominated the second 45 minute in which Pat's barely mounted a challenge.
Two headed goals had the teams at 1-1 at half time, Alan Bennett's 24th minute header, from a Kevin O'Connor corner, giving City a lead which was cancelled out by Chris Fagan's 39th-minute header, converting an Ian Bermingham cross. But once City took the lead five minutes into the second half, through Maguire, the tie was over.
Kilkenny native Maguire is not the tallest of strikers but he timed his leap perfectly to connect with Steven Beattie's cross and headed home his 23rd of the season.
With 12 minutes left, Cork had their third of the day and Maguire had his 24th of the campaign, the striker on hand to profit from a lapse in concentration by ex-Cork player Darren Dennehy.
St Pat's - Clarke, O'Brien, D Dennehy, Hoare, Bermingham, Byrne (Timlin, 74), Kelly (Barker, 74), Desmond, McGrath, B Dennehy (Corcoran, 86), Fagan.
CORK CITY - McNulty, Beattie., Browne, Bennett, O'Connor, Bolger (Healy, 87), Sheppard, G Morrissey (Holohan, 21), Buckley, Dooley, Maguire (O'Sullivan, 83).
REF - R Harvey