CORK CITY suffered their first defeat in 12 league games as Christy Fagan's goal midway through the second half gave St Patrick's Athletic all three points at Turner's Cross last night.
Though Cork pressed strongly thereafter, they met a stout Pat's defence which did not yield any clear-cut chances, meaning they move to within a point of third-placed Shamrock Rovers.
The game began brightly, with both sides playing neat football, but for the most part it failed to deliver on that initial promise.
Cork made most of the running, Davin O'Neill lively up front, while Daryl Horgan and Gearoid Morrissey were the most creative in midfield. In the 26th minute, a nice ball up the line from the impressive Danny Murphy allowed O'Neill to beat Conor Kenna for pace but his attempted low cross for Vinny Sullivan was cut out by Kenny Browne.
But it was Pat's, who had been in the back foot for most of the half, who had the best chance eight minutes before the break when Fagan put a free header over the bar.
Then, in the final minute, Cork goalkeeper Mark McNulty sent a free-kick straight to Chris Forrester but managed to get back to goal before the low shot could cross the line.
The tempo increased noticeably in the second half, and O'Neill went close early on, shooting just past the post following a good run.
Though Pat's goal was slightly against the run of the play, it was not wholly undeserved, Darren Meenan having made a good impression following his introduction.
Horgan tried his best to engineer a chance of an equaliser for Cork, but it was not to be.
CORK CITY -- McNulty; Dunelavy, K Murray, D Murray, Murphy; Turner (Lenihan 73), G Morrissey, Duggan, D Horgan; O'Neill (Kenny 83), Sullivan.
ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC -- Clarke; O'Brien, Kenna, Browne, Berminghan; Flood (Meenan 64), Bolger, Forrester (Coombes half-time), Chambers, O'Connor; Fagan (Faherty 90).
REF -- T Connolly (Dublin).