Tuesday 12 November 2019

Cork crown unwanted trio of Euro exits for Irish sides

Europa League - AEK Larnaca 1 Cork City 0 - AEK win 2-0 on agg

Kevin O'Connor of Cork City applauds supporters as he leaves the pitch after the UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round Second Leg match between AEK Larnaca and Cork City at the AEK Arena in Larnaca, Cyprus. Photo by Doug Minihane/Sportsfile
Kevin O'Connor of Cork City applauds supporters as he leaves the pitch after the UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round Second Leg match between AEK Larnaca and Cork City at the AEK Arena in Larnaca, Cyprus. Photo by Doug Minihane/Sportsfile

THERE was no fairytale ending to his Cork City career for Sean Maguire last night as the marksman’s side completed a torrid week for League of Ireland representatives in Europe with elimination in Cyprus.

Maguire and his runaway league leaders have been rampant this season, notching 84 goals in 30 games, but they failed to find the net in over 180 minutes against a Larnaca outfit superior in both style and nous.

Rather than cancelling out the single goal conceded at Turner’s Cross a week earlier, City struggled to match the home side’s tempo and saw any prospect of a third round meeting next week with Dinamo Minsk dissipate on 33 minutes.

Florian Taulemesse reacted first to a deflected 20-yard shot by Jorge Larena to steer a diving header past goalkeeper Mark McNulty, who was left completely wrong-footed.

The French striker was lucky to stay on the pitch early in the second-half after lodging his studs firmly into the ankle of Conor McCormack.

Had Florian received the deserved red card, rather than yellow, at that stage, perhaps City may have profited from the extra man, yet they were lacking the ingenuity to threaten the locals.

Maguire might have won them a penalty with 20 minutes left when he was shoved by Hector Hevel inside the box and his last act as a City player came deep in stoppage time as he couldn’t conclude one of his trademark bursts with the accuracy needed to test goalkeeper Juan Pablo.

The Kilkenny native and City teammate Kevin O'Connor will link up with their new club, Preston North End, over the weekend.

"When Larnaca started by playing long balls, we settled into the match without really opening them up and creating a clearcut chance," reflected City boss John Caulfield afterwards.

"That was down to their quality. When you come up against players that bit higher in quality, it makes the difference.

"Now, it's back to the league for us, trying to win the title to make sure we qualify for the Champions League next year."

Unearthing an able replacement for Maguire will be Caulfield's biggest challenge in the meantime.

AEK Larnaca - Pablo; Truyols, Mojsov, Catala, Antoniades; Larena, Tomas (Tete 72); Trickovski (Boljevic 87), Hevel, Laban; Florian (Mytidis 80)

Cork City - McNulty; Keohane (Sheppard 67), Delaney, McCormack, O’Connor; Morrissey, Bolger, Buckley (Campion 61), Beattie; Dooley (Sadlier 61), Maguire.

Ref - Pavle Radovanović (MNE).

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