Thursday 17 October 2019

Dundalk mark Cork's card

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Cork City 1 Dundalk 2

James Rogers at Turner's Cross

New season and new coach but same old winning mentality for Dundalk.

The President's Cup might not be anywhere near the top of the priority list for Vinny Perth as he looks to step into Stephen Kenny's shoes but even at this early stage of his tenure he has achieved something that his predecessor hasn't for the last three years - beating your biggest rivals in the annual curtain raiser to the season.

There will be no fireworks let off on the back of this win but it was a nice positive leading into Friday's league opener at home to Sligo Rovers.

If last season's 4-2 loss at Oriel Park was the proverbial game of two halves in terms of the weather and the pattern of play then this wasn't far behind.

Conditions at Turner's Cross were much more settled than 12 months ago but we saw two sides of both teams on the day with positives and negatives to take from the game for both benches.

On the whole both Perth and John Caulfield will be happy enough with where they are at.

Dundalk really took the game by the scruff of the net in the first half and dominated their opponents for long periods. The shot count at the break read 10 to 1 in favour of the visitors and it really wouldn't have flattered them had they led by more than 2-0 at half-time.

The real positive was how dominant Dundalk were from set pieces, winning almost all headers in the City box. By Kenny's own admission Dundalk hadn't been doing enough from set pieces at times in recent seasons but if the quality and standard of delivery we saw on Saturday can be maintained into the season then it's an ominous sign for opposing teams.

The threat from set pieces was evident as early as the seven minute when Pat Hoban rose to meet Michael Duffy's corner only to glance a header just wide under pressure from Dan Casey.

That pair linked up again a minute later when Hoban slipped Duffy in on the left only for him to fire straight at Mark McNulty, who had to gather at the second attempt.

Dundalk should have been in front on 10 minutes when Duffy's corner was helped on by Hoban, whose effort came back off the left hand upright.

Duffy then continued the early threat by curling a free kick just wide on the quarter hour mark.

Cork had a bit of a better spell after that with Conor McCarthy getting a couple of dangerous crosses into the box but Brian Gartland and Sean Hoare were capable of dealing with each of them as the home side struggled to create an opening of note.

Duffy would go close with another free before the next attack paved the way for the breakthrough on 36 minutes. Sean Gannon found space to shoot on the right only to see it blocked by the despairing dive of Conor McCormack. The follow up then fell to John Mountney at the edge of the area, whose shot deflected just wide off Dan Casey.

Duffy then delivered the resulting corner into the box where the unmarked Dane Massey powered a header to the net despite the efforts of a defender on the line to keep it out.

Cork finally managed their first shot of the afternoon on 42 minutes but Dáire O'Connor's free was well over.

Dundalk then doubled their lead in stoppage time at the end of the half. Cork failed to properly clear from a corner with man of the match Chris Shields keeping the pressure on with a superb pass out left to Duffy. The winger then whipped a superb cross into the near post where Hoban was on hand to flick to the net for what was his 75th goal for the club.

At that stage it looked like Dundalk would go on to win with ease but Cork upped their game in the second half.

Firstly Casey headed over from a corner on 52 minutes before they registered their first shot on target a minute later when Gearoid Morrissey slipped Graham Cummins in behind only for his shot from a tight angle to be kept out by Gary Rogers.

Dundalk were now on the backfoot but they came close to adding a third on the hour mark. A superb turn by Duffy on the left saw him spin away from Carthy to get a cross away. Both Hoban and Robbie Benson attacked it but neither could get enough purchase on it to trouble McNulty.

Cork then went close at the other end a minute later when McCarthy flashed a volley just wide of the post after the visitors had failed to clear from a corner.

The home side did manage to pull a goal back on 65 minutes with substitute Kevin O'Connor curling a free kick over the wall and into the top left hand corner after Shields was adjudged to have fouled him.

By contrast, Dundalk's threat was slim with their first attempt of the half only arriving six minutes later. On this occasion Sean Murray stepped up to have a go from a free but ballooned it well over.

Cork were now pushing hard for an equaliser with Rogers doing well to keep out a long range effort from Kevin O'Connor on 75 minutes.

Their best chance of rescuing something from the game came six minutes later when James Tilley's corner picked out McCarthy on the edge of the six yard box only for the ball to skim the back of his head and run harmlessly to the left and wide.

Dundalk finally managed their first attempt on goal with five minutes to go but Georgie Kelly's header from Duffy's corner was straight at McNulty.

There might have been a lot of hustle and bustle from Cork but Dundalk coped with it well. There were undoubted positives to take from the game but also lessons to be learnt ahead of bigger matches.

Still, you never tire of winning or beating your biggest rivals on their home patch.

The Vinny Perth era is up and running with a win. The last time Dundalk won the President's Cup in 2015, they managed to do the double. The aims are similar this year and on the evidence of Saturday there's little evidence to suggest it can't be achieved.

Cork City: McNulty; McCarthy, Casey, McLoughlin, Griffin; McCormack (K O'Connor 63), Morrissey; D O'Connor, Buckley, Tilley; Cummins. Subs not used: Ryan, Horgan, Bennett, Rainsford, Hurley, Murphy.

Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Massey; Shields, Benson (Jarvis 92); Mountney, McEleney (Murray 68), Duffy; Hoban (G Kelly 83). Subs not used: McCarey, D Kelly, Folan, Cleary.

Referee: Rob Hennessy (Limerick).

The Argus