Derry City open Brandywell campaign with victory over Cork City as Patrick McEleney strike steals the show
Derry City 2Cork City 0
PATRICK McEleney's stunning first half strike was the highlight of a hard fought battle at Brandywell where Derry City got their home campaign off to a winning start against a gritty Cork City.
The City skipper was back in the starting line-up after recovering from injury and he produced a little piece of magic to break the deadlock on 32 minutes as he bent the ball around the Cork defence and buried his strike into the bottom corner.
It was his first goal in almost 12 month but it was a crucial one as Derry were struggling to break the resolve of Cork.
Barry Coffey had a couple of opportunities to bring Cork level before Jordan McEneff confidently swept home Ryan Graydon's cross for his second goal in as many games.
There was a nervous moment for City left-back Ben Doherty late on when his header almost caught Brian Maher out but the City keeper managed to scramble back and claw the ball off the line.
In the end it was comfortable for the home side who registered their first win of the season - a timely victory ahead of a trip to a so far winless Shamrock Rovers who will be without three key defenders for the visit of the Candystripes.
It was a sell-out crowd at Brandywell for the first home match of the season with Derry strong favourites against Cork who lost their opening match against Bohemians at Turner's Cross last week.
Derry were understrength, however, with Cork native Adam O'Reilly joining Michael Duffy (calf), Cameron McJannet (hamstring), Cameron Dummigan, Colm Whelan and Ciaron Harkin on the growing injury list. Sadou Diallo was serving the final match of his three game suspension.
Ben Doherty returned to the starting line-up to replace McJannet while Patrick McEleney was handed his first start of the season in the middle of the park.
Cork striker Cian Murphy was the only absentee for the visitors.
Derry had the first shot on target on seven minutes when Doherty was in space 25 yards from goal and had time to take a touch before drilling his shot towards the bottom corner but Cork keeper Tobi Oluwayemi parried it clear at full stretch.
Jordan McEneff who netted his first league goal for the club at Inchicore last weekend, attempted to curl an effort into the far corner with his right foot but it came off Cork defender Ally Gilchrist's head and bounced narrowly wide of the near post.It was a real let-off for the visitors and the ex-Candystripe.
Derry broke the deadlock in stunning fashion on 32 minutes when skipper McEleney took a touch on the edge of the penalty area before bending his shot around a Cork defender and into the bottom corner with a sublime finish.
It was McEleney's first goal in almost 12 months, his last the winner at Tolka Park on March 4th last season.
O'Neill played in Doherty on the left flank and the City left back tried his luck with a left footed strike on the run from wide on the left but it arrowed just wide of the target after a quick break.
Cork broke quickly at the other end and Barry Coffey had a big chance to level the match on 43 minutes but Brian Maher saved well with his outstretched right leg.
The Rebels carved out a decent opportunity at the start of the second half when Josh Honohan clipped in a cross from the left and Coffey's glancing header went narrowly behind.
The game was opening up and Derry managed to open up a two goal cushion on 64 minutes.
Ryan Graydon crossed invitingly from the right wing and McEneff swept the ball home with a fine first-time finish from close range.
Cork had a chance to half the deficit on 69 minutes when Keating got on the end of Varian's flick on but Maher managed to smother the ball at his feet.
Maher had to scramble back towards goal and claw Doherty's backpass off the line with seven minutes to go, sparing the blushes of the defender who had misjudged the pace and direction of his header.
The City keeper had to be alert moments later to deny substitute Daniel Krezic's strike from a narrow angle as he tipped it behind for a corner.
Cork had run out of ideas after that and Derry managed to see it out without any further concerns to get their campaign up and running ahead of that trip to Tallaght next Friday night.
The Candy Stripes will certainly fancy their chances in that one as Stephen Bradley must plan without Roberto Lopes, Dan Cleary and Lee Grace who will all serve suspensions after the latter two were sent off in Rovers’ 1-1 draw with Drogheda United.
On a sidenote the first home match of the season ended without incident in the stand as the warning from City chairman Mr Philip O’Doherty to issue lifetime bans to anyone with flares in the stadium was heeded on a perfect night for the Foylesiders.
Derry City: Maher: Coll, Connolly, S. McEleney, Doherty; Graydon, McEneff (B. Kavanagh 74), P. McEleney, O’Neill (Boyce 86); Patching; McGonigle (C. Kavanagh 74): Subs Not Used – Ryan, Ward, McLaughlin, McGinty, Mullan, Barr.
Cork City: Oluwayemi; Crowley, Hakkinen, Gilchrist, Honohan; Coffey (Owolabi 80), Coleman, Bolger, Bargary; Varian (Krezic 70); Keating; Subs Not Used – Corcoran,Walker, Healy, Winbo, O’Donovan, Custovic, Whitmarsh.
Referee – Damien MacGraith (Mayo).