Derry City 0, Cork 1
DERRY City boss, Roddy Collins, refused to make any excuses after watching his side frustratingly fall to defeat in their first home game of the season against a physically strong Cork City.
John Caulfield’s side were dangerous at set-piece situations throughout and the warning signs were there for the home defence in the first half when Darren Dennehy’s header following a corner kick, was headed off the line by the alert Barry Molloy.
But the towering defender was then gifted a free header in the second half when his older brother Billy delivered a teasing free-kick towards the back post, and the younger sibling directed the ball back across goal and into the net for the decisive strike.
The state of the Brandywell pitch emerged a talking point for both managers after the match and the surface certainly didn’t lend itself to attractive, free-flowing football.
However, Collins refused to blame the conditions for his side’s poor showing and he was particularly disappointed with the nature of the goal conceded as he admitted that his side had discussed the danger posed in set-piece situations during his pre-match team talk.
“It was very disappointing to give away a goal like that,” lamented the Derry boss.
“Having watched them play last week (against St. Pat’s) they were very good in set-pieces, so to allow Dennehy slip away at the back post and get a free header in simply wasn’t good enough.
“Obviously the pitch didn’t help us going forward and it just didn’t happen for us offensively but it’s too early in the season to take anything from this result.”
Indeed, Derry created very little in terms of goalscoring opportunities throughout the entirety of what was an insipid 90 minutes - their only cutting-edge chance arriving in the first half when Rory Patterson’s low drive from just inside the Cork penalty area was well saved by Mark McNulty.
Excepting that sole chance, the home side failed to penetrate the Cork defence and the visitors were more than happy to sit back and protect their slender advantage which they did comfortably.
Collins had made two changes to the team which opened the campaign with that very credible draw at Shamrock Rovers with Michael Duffy and Shane McEleney making way for Rory Patterson and Patrick McEleney in a more offensive line-up.
Cork City, meanwhile, started without the suspended John Dunleavy while Anthony Elding failed to shake off a troublesome knee injury, failing a pre-match fitness test.
Both sides huffed and puffed in the early stages but the game finally sparked into life on the half hour mark.
A powerful header by Darren Dennehy at the back post from a corner was cleared off the line by Molloy as the home attendance breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Derry countered immediately and Patrick McEleney sent Patterson scampering through on goal but his low strike was saved by the advancing McNulty.
The visitors almost captilalised from a training ground routine, when a Colin Healy free-kick on 33 minutes caught the Derry defence napping but Mark O’Sullivan failed to get that vital touch before Gerard Doherty advanced to claim possession.
The ‘Candy Stripes’ were struggling to contain Cork in set-piece situations and the ‘Rebels’ deservedly took the lead following a free-kick eight minutes after the interval.
Billy Dennehy whipped the ball into the back post where his younger brother Darren guided his free header into the far corner of the net.
The Cork defence remained resolute but the home lot failed to muster up an adequate response to that thoroughly deserved opening goal from their big centre-half.
DERRY CITY: G. Doherty; R. Collins, C. Byrne, R. McBride (D. Jarvis, 45), A. Barry; P. McEleney (M. Duffy 59), B. Molloy, D. Ventre, E. Curran; M. Stewart (S. McEleney, 75), R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - C. Gallagher, R. Curran, M. Timlin, R. Foy.
CORK CITY: M. Nulty; B. Lenihan, D. Dennehy, D. Murray, L. Kearney (J. Kavanagh 57); G. Morrissey, G. Buckley, C. Healy, D. Murphy, B. Dennehy (D. O’Leary 86); M. O’Sullivan; Subs Not Used - I. Turner, A. O’Connell, K. Mulachy,R. Lehanee, M. Gledhill.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle (Dublin).