Last-minute Ronan Hale strike secures win for Pat's as Cork start looking over shoulder
Cork City 0 St. Patrick's Athletic 1
Sub Ronan Hale was the St Patrick’s Athletic hero as his 90th-minute winner gave them victory at Turner’s Cross last night.
Given that the sides had drawn two of their previous three games with Pat’s winning the other courtesy of a penalty, it was no surprise that another close game materialised.
A third draw looked likely, but new signing Hale made an instant impact when his low curling effort from outside the area, just as the game moved into injury-time, gave the Saints the win.
Having denied Cork City victory with late equalisers in the clubs’ last two meetings, this was even sweeter for Harry Kenny’s side, who stay in the hunt for fourth place, six points behind Bohemians.
While Gearóid Morrissey had an early effort from distance for the hosts which whistled wide, real chances were rare in the opening period.
City’s Joel Coustrain went closest just before the half-hour, with Kevin Toner having to defend well for Pat’s while debutant Eoghan Stokes – on early for his debut after an injury to Mark O’Sullivan – linked well with Coustrain and Kevin O’Connor, the latter’s shot blocked by Ciarán Kelly.
Pat’s went closest in the first half when Gary Shaw nearly played Conor Clifford in, Mark McNulty diving at his feet.
Stokes had a long-range effort which was well off target in the early stages of the second half and then almost dispossessed goalkeeper Brendan Clarke following a backpass but couldn’t keep the ball in play.
At the other end, Clifford drove at the City defence and into the area and while referee Ben Connolly blew his whistle, it was for a home free-kick and a yellow card for Clifford. On 72 minutes, Pat’s had a better chance as Dean Clarke latched on to a clearance and used his pace well but McNulty made a good save.
While the resultant corner ended with the ball in the net, the goalkeeper was being fouled.
As the end neared, City pushed and captain Conor McCarthy headed over from a Dáire O’Connor corner while Karl Sheppard fired over when Garry Buckley set him up.
Hale, who only got clearance to play just hours before kick-off, might have scored on 89 as he just failed to reach a low Clarke cross, but there was still time for him to be the match-winner.
Dan Casey had a late chance from a free-kick for City but Clarke saved to ensure his team took the points.
CORK CITY – McNulty; Horgan, McCarthy, Casey, Hurley; McCormack, Morrissey; Coustrain (D O’Connor 62), K O’Connor (Buckley 62), Sheppard; O’Sullivan (Stokes 26).
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC – B Clarke; Desmond, Webster, Kelly (Hale 74), Toner; Lennon; D Clarke, Markey (Coleman 90), Clifford, Bermingham; Shaw (McAuley 84).
Ref – B Connolly (Dublin)