FOOTBALL can be a very cruel and unkind at times and this was certainly the case in point for Cork City; for manager Tommy Dunne and a sizeable home support of over 2,300 at Turner’s Cross, on Sunday afternoon.
NOEL SPILLANE reports from Cork
Photographs: EDDIE O’HAIRE
The game was heading for what had been a predictable draw but then, in the last minute, the unexpected happened, Derry won a last minute spot-kick and, for the first time in 13 years, the “Candy Stripes” won a league game in the southern capital!
It was one of those days for Cork – Derry with a makeshift team were there for the taking – and yet by full-time the points were off, up the road to Foyleside and Brandywell Stadium.
Not for the first time, Derry City’s prolific hitman, Rory Patterson, was the match winner for the visitors as he converted - at the second attempt - from a controversial penalty award after substitute, Adam Rundle, was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area.
But the call was made by assistant referee, Damien Klier on the Derrynane Road side, rather than match referee Paul Tuite.
The last time Derry won in Cork they claimed the EA Sports Cup Final back in 2011 but on Sunday they were missing several key men in their captain, Kevin Deery, robust centre-back, Stewart Greacen, new recruit Paddy Kavanagh and the McEleney brothers, Shane and Paddy who cried off late because of a family bereavement.
So Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, was forced into making three changes from the team which drew 1-1 with Drogheda United at the Lone Moor Road venue last Tuesday night.
Cork made one change with Johnny Dunleavy returning at right-back for Neal Horgan who was sidelined with a knee injury.
And undefeated in 11 games, Cork were fresh after their midweek match against Bray Wanderers was postponed at the Carlisle Grounds due to an unplayable pitch.
Cork made a lively, energetic start as Danny Murphy’s low drive brought Derry custodian Ger Doherty into action during the early stages.
Darly Horgan was unlucky not to pick out Danny Furlong on the far post after 10 minutes before Derry showed for the first time and were within inches of taking the lead.
A short free-kick by Ruadhri Higgins found Mike Rafter and he let fly from 35 yards and almost caught Cork keeper, Mark McNulty off guard as his shot flashed just wide of the target.
The home side won their first corner on 22 minutes but it was Derry who came closest to a goal when centre-back, Ryan McBride headed Thomas Crawley’s free just wide on the half hour.
Daryl Horgan volleyed wide after winning a second ball on the edge of the box and just before the break another dangerous Horgan cross bound for the head of Danny Furlong was intercepted by Molloy for the concession of another fruitless corner.
Twice on the restart the overlapping Murphy got in great crosses but Daryl Kavanagh and Furlong were unable to finish before the decisive moment arrived on 89 minutes.
Rundle, in splendid isolation, was unfortunate to handle on the edge of the box and while McNulty dived to save Patterson’s initial kick, he was powerless to prevent the Derry front man’s follow-up as he drilled the rebound high into the roof of the net.
That goal clearly left the chilled and freezing home crowd stunned and dumbfounded at the final whistle. This was a classic smash and grab raid on Derry’s part and Cork had simply no possibility of a comeback.
“Monkey off our Backs!”
Brandywell boss, Devine, expressed very little sympathy for that last gasp cruel act, his only concern was that a monkey had been removed from Derry’s back.
“It’s our first league win in Cork in 13 years - over 17 matches - so that’s a monkey off our backs, believe me,” said a delighted Devine.
“But I really do think we earned everything we got against Cork and, okay, we were fortunate to get a last minute goal to win the game. At that stage I was always happy to be returning home with a point,” admitted the Derry boss.
Devine also alluded to the fact that he was missing quite a few first team regulars.
“Stewart Greacen has had a knee operation; Paddy Kavanagh and Dermot McCaffrey are nursing hamstring injuries and, just before we left for Cork, the two McEleney brothers, Shane and Patrick, had to pull out of the squad as their grandfather (Mr. John Gallagher) had passed away.
“So we had to call in a few of our squad players and we had one or two of our walking wounded on the bench. But no-one let us down, I felt we battled hard and we tried to win the match despite our difficulties. I also think we missed a few clear-cut scoring chances as well,” insisted Devine.
“In all, we were down eight first team players for this match at Turner’s Cross, so this result is a massive victory for us, it’s a massive three points.
“We hvae now played the reigning league champions, the runners-up and now a very good Cork City side, so our start to the season has been excellent in my view.
“We failed to beat Drogheda last Tuesday night in the Brandywell when held to a 1-1 result, but the spirit, the commitment and attitude we showed against Cork City has been nothing short of top class.
“We were down so many players and Cork City probably felt we were there for the taking when they read our team-sheet, but we dug in and dug out a fantastic Sresult against a decent side.
“We were missing quite a few talented players and we had lads like Barry Molloy forced to play out of position, but we recorded quite a few top drawer performances in this game and that’s what got us the win in the end.
“Naturally I am very happy to get the three pointsfrom a trip to Cork, but I am just as happy to get that monkey off our backs and get a league win here at Turner’s Cross for the first time in 13 seasons.
“We actually won the EA Sports Cup down here against Cork in 2011, but in the league it has been a different story for us and you have to go back to the year 2000 I think, to record the last time we took three points from a trip to Cork in the league.
“Naturally, I’m over the moon with the victory given the difficulties we had to overcome and yes, we will have a very happy group making the 300 miles trip home,” concluded Devine.
CORK CITY - 4-4-2 - McNulty; Dunleavy (Turner, 81), D. Murray, K. Murray, Murphy; G. Morrissey, Healy, Duggan, D. Horgan (Rundle, 81); Furlong, Kavanagh (D. Morrissey, 75). Subs. not used: Dennehy, Behan, Buckley and Burns.
DERRY CITY - 4-4-2 - Doherty; Madden, McBride, Molloy, Crawley; Duffy, Houston, Higgins, Rafter (Curran, 68); Patterson, Griffin. Subs. not used: Gallagher, McNamee, Barr, Kelly and McCaffrey.
REFEREE - Mr. Paul Tuite (Dublin).