New recruit Sean Maguire fires Cork City to opening day victory over 10-man Bohemians
Cork City 2 Bohemians 0
CORK CITY's mission to wrestle the title away from Dundalk got off to a winning start because of a player that ended last season with the league champions.
Sean Maguire didn't take away too many happy memories from his stint at Oriel Park as he struggled to break into a double winning team that he only joined midway through the campaign following his release from West Ham.
It ended on a real low from his perspective when he failed to make the bench for the FAI Cup final win over the Leesiders.
John Caulfield duly prompted an opportunity to make a move for his services and last week, Maguire did prove a point to Stephen Kenny by scoring in a President's Cup win over Dundalk at Turner's Cross.
This was the start of the serious business, however, and the 21-year-old rose to the challenge with a quickfire second half brace that illustrated the difference that a goal poacher can make.
It turned a struggle into a comfortable victory with a late sending off for Roberto Lopes completing a miserable evening for the visitors. The majority of the 4,000 crowd revelled in their disappointment and hailed a new hero at the full-time whistle.
At the interval, they could reasonably have wondered where the inspiration was going to come from.
Throughout the lengthy build-up to the new campaign, prominent figures within the league had called for an improved marketing plan to stress the positives of the domestic game. The first half of this game will never be used to aid such a project.
The elements played their part. 'Summer soccer' is a misleading description of the preferred season calendar. Unfortunately, the combination of early season rustiness, a cold and windy night and a bumpy pitch made for grim viewing.
Bohemians started with just one new signing and the familiarity with their gameplan was evident as they succeeded in making life very difficult for the hosts from the outset. Central striker Ismahil Akinade was a nuisance to the Cork rearguard and both Kenny Browne and John Dunleavy went into the book for chopping him down.
Save for an early effort from Maguire, a Cork side featuring seven recruits struggled to get into any rhythm before the interval as Bohs closed them down in their own half.
Neither goalkeeper had a save to make before Neil Doyle brought an end to the half, but home stopper Mark McNulty was more active than Dean Delany as he had to deal with a number of set pieces which caused a few nervy moments for the natives.
Maguire, the lone City striker, wouldn't ever be described as a target man which meant they struggled for an out ball from deep. With the wind helping them slightly, the hosts managed to probe a bit deeper into Bohs territory after the restart and that allowed the predatory instincts of the Kilkenny native to shine.
They were ahead inside eight minutes. Eoghan O'Connell, the loan arrival from Celtic, collected the leftovers from a throw and scooped the ball into the area where Maguire nipped in behind the ponderous Anto Murphy and found the space to direct a right footed shot past Delany.
It eased the tension levels around the ground with wingers Ian Turner and Stephen Dooley giving problems to a Bohs team that was deflated by the setback.
The increased confidence in the City ranks was evident in the second goal as centre half Browne had the space in the 63rd minute to send another hopeful ball in the direction of the area. It created another head to head between Maguire and Murphy which went the way of the crafty attacker who had the swiftness of thought to take possession and squeeze the ball past Delany from a tight angle.
That was game over with the savvy of central midfielders Greg Bolger and Gearoid Morrissey coming to the fore as Caulfield's charges efficiently snuffed out any hope of a comeback. Long hooked Murphy and sent Lopes back into the centre of defence but that didn't end well as his foul on Dooley prompted Doyle to produce a second yellow.
Bohs were out of ideas and ready for the trip home. Cork, on the other hand, will be hoping that the clinical second half is a sign of what's to come.
CORK CITY: McNulty, O'Connell, Bennett, Browne, Dunleavy; Bolger, Morrissey; Turner (Sheppard 76), Holohan (Beattie 68), Dooley (Healy 84); Maguire
BOHEMIANS: Delany, Pender, Murphy (Wearen 73), Prendergast, Fitzgerald; Lopes, Buckley; Kavanagh, Byrne, Kelly (Quigley 66); Akinade (Byrne 84)
REF – N Doyle (Dublin)