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Thursday 13 December 2018

Seagulls suffer a spanking in their final Premier encounter

Cork City 5 Bray Wanderers 1

Bray Wanderers manager Gary Cronin has a major job of work ahead of the start of next season. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Bray Wanderers manager Gary Cronin has a major job of work ahead of the start of next season. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Daniel Gorman

As goodbyes go, it was not a pleasant one for Bray Wanderers as they were spanked in their final Premier Division game until at least 2020.

Cork City were in complete control of the Seagulls and had them pinned down 4-0 at the break as they played their final home match of the season and their final match before this Sunday's FAI Cup final.

Gary Cronin's men may have been buoyed by their 2-1 success over Derry City but the Leesiders offer a very different prospect than Kenny Shiels' former side and the Co. Wicklow club got one final reminder of how good the top flight can be as they exit it for the first time in 14 years.

With 10 minutes on the clock, attacking midfielder Barry McNamee threaded a fine pass through the Bray defence to release Graham Cummins but the striker's effort was straight at Evan Moran who dealt with it.

Moments later, Steven Beattie thought he'd beaten Moran but saw his strike kiss the near post and go behind for a corner from which Cummins saw his header scrambled off the line.

With the Bray goal living a charmed life, Gearoid Morrissey was next to try to break the deadlock when he arrived late to meet a Kieran Sadlier corner but his header could only find the side netting.

Morrissey quickly followed that up with a shot from the edge of the area. It had decent power but not decent accuracy as it zipped past the post.

After 21 minutes, Bray's resistance ended as Sadlier bagged his first of the evening when he turned in McNamee's cross with his head.

Sadlier instantly set about finding his second as he cut in from his left flank and unleashed a fine shot but Moran took the fizz out of the drive and kept it in his grasp.

Buckley and Sadlier then both threatened to double City's lead before Conor Kenna spurned a rare chance for Bray but the Seagulls skipper could only nudge Sean Harding's cross into the gloves of Mark McNulty.

One finally became two a minute shy of the half hour mark. Left-back Shane Griffin stormed forward down the wing and drove into the penalty area before calmly feeding it to Morrissey to dispatch it to the net.

City's third would follow on 34 minutes and it was the pick of the bunch as Sadlier fired a rocket past Moran from distance that beautifully thudded in off the post.

Just like against Bohemians seven days earlier, Wanderers would find themselves trailing by four goals by half-time. Griffin was again involved in the set-up although this time his role was less active; his cross was batted away by Moran but only as far as McNamee who buried his shot to the roof of the net.

With two goals already to his name, Sadlier wrapped up his hat-trick just two minutes into the second period as he drilled home Griffin's cut-back.

The visitors slightly rained on Cork's parade as they pulled a goal back by the 49th minute. Jake Ellis scampered onto a ball over the top and got the better of McNulty meaning that Bray's youngest ever goalscorer has the same number of league goals as Roberto Firmino (two) at the time of writing.

There was to be no miraculous comeback for the relegated Seagulls though and they were fortunate not to ship a sixth as Graham Cummins nodded against the crossbar from close-range when he should have scored.

Evan Moran then came to the rescue for Bray when he spread himself well to deny Cian Murphy who had been set through one-on-one by Sadlier.

No more punishment came the way of Gary Cronin's men and one couldn't help but think of a certain Simpsons meme ('stop, stop - they're already dead!') as the goals flew in at Turner's Cross. Cork City must now plan for an FAI Cup final but Bray Wanderers face a tougher task; a squad overhaul which will give them the fresh start they crave in the 2019 First Division.

Cork City: 1. Mark McNulty; 8. Conor McCormack, 3. Alan Bennett, 29. Sean McLoughlin, 20. Shane Griffin; 6. Gearoid Morrissey, 26. Garry Buckley; 11. Kieran Sadlier, 25. Barry McNamee, 10. Steven Beattie; 9. Graham Cummins. Subs: Cian Murphy for Buckley (H/T); Aaron Barry for Morrissey (55); Conor McCarthy for Beattie (56). Not used: Peter Cherrie, Jimmy Keohane, Damien Delaney, Ronan Coughlan.

Bray Wanderers: 29. Evan Moran; 25. Cian Walsh, 4. Conor Kenna, 5. Sean Heaney, 3. Kevin Lynch; 31. Sean Harding, 6. Paul O'Conor, 8. John Sullivan, 22. Darragh Noone; 24. Jake Ellis, 9. Ger Pender. Subs: Jake Kelly for Ellis (70); Cian Maher for Harding (75); Rhys Gorman for Noone (85). Not used: Mark O'Connor, Dylan Hayes, Darragh Gibbons, Jamie Crilly.

Referee: Sean Grant.

Venue: Turner's Cross, Cork.

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