A stunning overhead kick from Colin Healy was enough to see Cork City claim all three points against reigning champions St Patrick's Athletic courtesy of 1-0 victory at Turner’s Cross and move to within four points of league leaders Dundalk.
The hosts created the better chances overall but an excellent game was finely balanced throughout as both teams played some great football and went about their business with real intent.
Dan Murray forced a top class save from Brendan Clarke just before half-time, before Conan Byrne clattered the post mid-way through the second half. However, with time running out, it was Healy who smashed his overhead effort to the back of the Pat’s net to settle the fixture in City’s favour.
Suspensions forced City boss John Caulfield to start Michael McSweeney and Liam Kearney in place of Darren Dennehy and Garry Buckley, while John O’Flynn lined up alongside Mark O’Sullivan with Josh O’Shea dropping to the bench.
Liam Buckley also tinkered with his line up, with Sean Hoare and Chris Forrester both out through suspension, Keith Fahey, Killian Brennan and Aaron Greene were all given the nod.
The home side, in need of a good result following two consecutive league defeats, were quickest to settle and threatened through a Mark O’Sullivan strike in the opening minutes.
John O’Flynn, yet to score since his latest return to Leeside, was next to set Cork hearts fluttering. O’Sullivan knocked the ball down into the six-yard box but Brennan was on hand to nick the ball away from the incoming O’Flynn and concede a corner.
The Saints looked dangerous in possession and Keith Fahey, as ever, was instrumental, while Christy Fagan floated his way around the City defence and was unlucky to see a last-ditch interception by Dan Murray knock his first attempt on goal away from target with 21 minutes gone.
Brennan should have at least hit the target when he charged forward up the centre of the park just short of the half-hour mark, but having played a neat one-two with captain Ian Bermingham, the Pat’s number 11 could only blaze his final effort high into the Shed end of the ground.
The first half dipped into a lull after that as both sides failed to engineer a telling ball in the final third of the pitch, and it was Murray, driving forward from the back, that drew an excellent save from Clarke on the cusp of half-time as he directed O’Flynn’s knock down at the Pat’s goal.
The introduction of Danny Morrissey early in the second half immediately spurred City into life as O’Sullivan and the young striker combining well to force Clarke into the concession of a corner on 55 minutes. Billy Dennehy’s set piece was collected too easily by Clarke, however, and the visitors cleared the danger.
The injection of pace was enough to release the shackles off the two teams and the action went from end-to-end with Danny Morrissey racing clear onto O’Sullivan’s ball before curling his shot wide on 66 minutes, before Billy Dennehy let loose from distance two minutes later.
Conor McCormack cleared O’Sullivan’s effort off his own line on 70 minutes and a minute later, Conan Byrne was on hand to knock the ball off the outside of the post after good play from Fahey and Greg Bolger in the build up.
A mix up at the back between Clarke and Kenny Browne allowed Danny Morrissey chase down a lost cause with 15 minutes remaining and substitute Josh O’Shea was unlucky to just miss the defender’s attempted clearance with an empty goal in front of him.
Quigley saw red for a second yellow card, both fouls on O’Sullivan, with just over ten minutes remaining, leaving enough time for veteran Healy to fire home his spectacular effort from McSweeney’s flick on and seal three extremely valuable points for the Leesiders.