Thursday 22 February 2018

Doona's late magic ends Cork's treble ambitions

Shamrock Rovers 1 Cork City 0

Players from both teams tussle after an off the ball incident between Alan Bennett and David Webster (on the ground) for which the Cork City player was sent off. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Players from both teams tussle after an off the ball incident between Alan Bennett and David Webster (on the ground) for which the Cork City player was sent off. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

This was not the kind of game that ever looked likely to finish with the euphoria of a pitch invasion.

But after 120 minutes of perspiration without inspiration, Shamrock Rovers winger James Doona produced a goal that triggered one at Tallaght Stadium.

Alan Bennett is shown the red card by referee Neil Doyle. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Alan Bennett is shown the red card by referee Neil Doyle. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The substitute swivelled in the area before sending in a left-footer that broke the resolve of a Cork side that had defended brilliantly with ten men for 78 minutes.

The Leesiders were seconds away from a shootout when Rovers finally struck to end City's ambitions of a domestic treble.

Manager John Caulfield was also sent to the stands in a fiery encounter that was short of real quality.

Rovers boss Stephen Bradley won't lose too much sleep over that after finally registering a win over a Cork side that has consistently given him problems during his tenure and the Hoops can now look forward to taking on Dundalk in the decider on September 16.

Garry Buckley of Cork City in action against David Webster, left, and David McAllister of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Garry Buckley of Cork City in action against David Webster, left, and David McAllister of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The main talking point came three minutes shy of the interval when visiting centre-half Alan Bennett was dismissed following an off-the-ball stamp on Dave Webster as they wrestled to follow-up a shot from Jimmy Keohane. Cork were furious and tempers spilled over, with all 22 players getting involved, but the visitors regrouped to cope with the stiff task that lay ahead.

Prior to that, it had been an even enough battle, with the best chance falling to Rovers' Gary Shaw. The Hoops should have created more opportunities against 10 men, with Caulfield sending in Conor McCarthy to fill the void left by Bennett, withdrawing young striker Conor Ellis.

McCarthy slotted in next to Ryan Delaney, who adapted well to the senior role on this occasion after a few tough moments without Bennett in recent weeks.

It took Rovers a while to make inroads, with Cork solid after the resumption and succeeding in keeping Rovers at arm's length.

Trevor Clarke of Shamrock Rovers in action against Garry Buckley of Cork City. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Trevor Clarke of Shamrock Rovers in action against Garry Buckley of Cork City. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Punished

That said, they were almost punished for standing off at one point when a Ronan Finn thunderbolt inspired a fantastic save from Mark McNulty.

With 20 minutes to go, the hosts did break through, but Brandon Miele wasted a one-on-one created by Gary Shaw. Otherwise, Rovers controlled possession without being dominant in the key battles.

Greg Bolger and Garry Buckley worked hard in the middle for City, with Karl Sheppard leading the line on his own. Their discipline was impressive, with the natives frustrated by their side's decision-making in the final third.

Cork had only one major scare in the final minutes of regulation time when McNulty raced from his goal to deny Madden before David McAllister blasted the rebound over.

It was the kind of miss that suggested an extra 30 minutes, which Caulfield had to watch from the stands as punishment for a comment made to the fourth official.

Steven Beattie of Cork City in action against Trevor Clarke of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Steven Beattie of Cork City in action against Trevor Clarke of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Rovers looked like a team with a holding midfielder too many and the introduction of Doona for McAllister in the early stages of extra-time addressed that.

They were nearly caught on the counter in the aftermath with Sheppard firing wide, but they finally began to spend more time in the Cork box and had claims for a penalty waved away when Madden went down after a push from Shane Griffin.

Then, Doona capitalised on a ­Michael O'Connor flick to set off frenzied celebrations.

 

Shamrock Rovers - Chencinski, Madden, Webster, Byrne (Carpenter 59), Clarke; Finn, McAllister (Doona 95); Connolly, Burke, Miele; Shaw (O'Connor 101).

Cork City- McNulty, Beattie (Morrissey 90), Bennett, Delaney, Griffin; Bolger, Keohane; Sheppard (Campion 101), Buckley, Dooley; Ellis (McCarthy 42).

ref - N Doyle (Dublin).

Irish Independent

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