Buckley strike gives Cork 17-point cushion
Finn Harps 0 Cork City 1
Garry Buckley helped Cork City restore a 17-point cushion at the top of the Premier Division with the only goal of the game against struggling Finn Harps.
Buckley netted in the 70th minute to give John Caulfield's men a hard-earned win. The goal came just as Harps were enjoying a decent spell. But Cork, who had a glut of chances before then, took the lead when Buckley reacted with purpose to finish from close range after Ryan Delaney's header rebounded off the inside of the post. Harps complained that keeper Ciaran Gallagher had the ball in his hands but their appeals fell on deaf ears.
Cork, still reeling from a 1-0 home loss to Sligo on Friday night, showed more signs of a side missing the influence of Sean Maguire.
Since the striker's departure to Preston North End last month, Cork have scored four goals in six games and the Leesiders weren't getting it all their own way against a Harps side smarting from a 4-0 hammering at St Pat's on Friday.
Cork were inches away just before half-time, but Jimmy Keohane's header was just wide after he connected with Kieran Sadlier's floated cross. Sadlier was at the hub of Cork's play and forced Gallagher into a fine save, the Harps 'keeper turning over from his crisp attempt.
Cork had the bulk of openings in the first half, but Gearoid Morrissey's header was too high while Sadlier was wide with an earlier effort from 20 yards.
Harps, who had Paddy McCourt and Danny Morrissey back in their starting XI, were living off scraps in the final third, but Sean Houston did get in a couple of times.
Houston headed an Ethan Boyle cross wide after 80 seconds and, later in the first period, barged his way past a couple of Cork players before thumping over the top from distance.
Sadlier was at it again seven minutes into the second half but Gallagher was equal, once more reaching out to make the save, at the expense of a corner.
As the game wore on, Harps began to explore the possibilities and Mark Timlin's composure just let him down at the vital moment when he was fed by sub Ibrahim Keita.
After Buckley broke the deadlock, Gallagher again denied Sadlier to give Harps hope, but it was Cork's night.
Finn Harps - C Gallagher; E Boyle, D McNulty, K Cantwell, C Coll; M Timlin (P Millien 79), T McBride (J Bonner 87), P McCourt, S Houston, G Harkin; D Morrissey (I Keita 63).
Cork City - M McNulty; S Beattie, A Bennett, R Delaney, S Griffin; C McCormack, G Morrissey; J Keohane, G Buckley, K Sadlier (C Ellis 88); K Sheppard.
Ref - P Tuite (Dublin)