Cork City maintained their unbeaten start to the league when sharing a stalemate with 10-man St Patrick’s Athletic in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Richmond Park.
There were very few chances of note in a cagey first half with both John O’Flynn of Cork and Christy Fagan of St Pat’s denied by the goalkeeping excellence of Conor O’Malley and Mark McNulty respectively.
Lee Desmond’s dismissal in the 75th minute looked to have handed Cork the initiative but the Saints comfortably repelled some late pressure to earn a deserved share of the spoils.
The visitors arrived in sunny Inchicore in rude health, having accrued full points from their previous three matches, and they started competently against a Saints outfit that was weakened by the late withdrawal through illness of midfield linchpin Greg Bolger.
Despite Bolger’s absence, the hosts benefited from Christopher Forrester’s positioning in a more central role and Forrester was the first player to register a shot in anger with a scuffed effort from 25 yards that veered wide in the 8th minute.
With very little to entertain the crowd in terms of goal-mouth action, the rise in intensity levels was reserved for some increasingly sparky challenges: City skipper John Dunleavy was cautioned in the 18th minute following a foul on Killian Brennan.
Desmond followed Dunleavy into the book three minutes later after an altercation with John Kavanagh, but the emphasis on bookings rather than scoring opportunities was indicative of a lack of cutting edge from either side.
As a consequence, it looked like a set-piece might prove the most likely option for either side and City almost opened the scoring in the 25th minute through Karl Sheppard.
An in-swinging free-kick from Kavanagh was flicked on by O’Flynn but Sheppard saw his headed attempt from eight yards clip the crossbar with Conor O’Malley stranded from his goal.
Far from building on that promise, Cork allowed their opponents to gain a foothold and when Garry Buckley was caught in possession, the visitors were fortunate to see Fagan’s shot deflect out for a corner-kick.
From the resultant corner-kick, Aaron Greene should have done better than fire straight at Mark McNulty as Kenny Browne rose highest to meet Conan Byrne’s delivery.
With the contest increasingly open, City were next to threaten in the 35th minute, when O’Malley produced a sublime finger-tip save to thwart O’Flynn’s cross-shot following an excellent through ball by Billy Dennehy.
Sheppard was profligate a minute later, his shot on the turn lacking sufficient power and accuracy to pierce the heavily-manned goal-line as City looked to turn the screw approaching the break.
Despite their struggles in attack, the final chance of the half fell to the hosts in the 44th minute as McNulty parried over the crossbar to deny Fagan after an excellent delivery from the right by Conan Byrne.
In the second half, both sides struggled to make an impression in the attacking third. Referee Derek Tomney was forced to dismiss half-hearted penalty protests in the 51st minute after Byrne had fallen theatrically under pressure from Ross Gaynor.
Within two minutes, Forrester once again highlighted his constant threat with a fine twenty-yard drive that McNulty dealt with comfortably as the hosts began to dominate possession in the middle third.
An excellent block by Alan Bennett on Greene soon after reflected the Saints’ greater endeavour as City looked to improve their play when replacing O’Flynn with Kieran Djilali in the 58th minute.
City’s solidity in defence was beginning to become lee assured as some desperately lax marking in the 65th minute should have been punished by Fagan, who showed poor control when looking to seize on Ger O’Brien’s precise pass.
After Billy Dennehy had finally offered some attacking threat for City with a powerful drive that veered wide after 72 minutes, the visitors were handed a numerical advantage three minutes later, when Desmond was shown a second booking after a rash challenge on Dennehy.
Far from looking to avail of this dismissal, Cork’s continued to be someshar hesitant, and the hosts still carried a greater threat. Fagan’s nimble turn after 83 minutes, though, was not matched by his subsequent shot that comfortably cleared McNulty’s crossbar.
From then on, neither side managed to break the deadlock, and had to settle for a share of the spoils.