League Report: St. Patrick’s Athletic 1 - 1 Cork City

Ruairi Keating in action for Cork City

Ruairi Keating in action for Cork City Credit: David Ribeiro (ETPhotos)

Luke Jordan reporting from Inchicore

A late Ruairi Keating strike sealed a dramatic point for Cork in the capital, with Jon Daly’s men missing a chance to close in on Shamrock Rovers after their draw in Drogheda on Friday night.

Jon Daly made one change to his lineup from the 7-0 victory against UCD last Friday. Noah Lewis was relegated to the bench with Harry Brockbank returning to the side at right back after recovering from a knock he picked up in Dundalk a couple weeks ago.

Sam Curtis was shifted into centre back to partner with Jay McGrath, who signed a deal during the week to stay with the club at least until the end of the season.

Liam Buckley made significant changes after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Drogheda. Gordon Walker, Cian Coleman, Ally Gilchrest, Matt Healy, and Jimmy Corcoran were replaced with Barry Coffey, Jonas Häkkinen, Joshua Honohan, Cian Bargary, and Tiernan Brooks.

Irish U21 international Brooks was making his League of Ireland Premier Division debut after coming on loan from League Two club Notts County.

Both teams started energetically, pressing the ball on a warm evening in Richmond Park. Cork deployed a 3-5-2 formation, leaving Aaron Bolger to man mark Athletic’s marquee player Chris Forrester off the ball.

Ruairi Keating and Tunde Owolabi, against his former club, posed a challenge for the Pats defenders as Cork opted to go direct against a youthful centre back pairing of Curtis and McGrath.

The first half was marred with stoppages, with more callouts for physios than chances created by either side. Referee David Dunne was quick to dish out cards within the first 20 minutes, booking three players in what seemed like harsh calls.

As the first half progressed, Pats began to dominate the tempo of the match. The game saw its first real quality after 39 minutes leading to the opener.

After a spell of possession, the home side passed the ball out to Jake Mulraney who cut in on his favourite left foot and curled an impressive strike past Brooks to make it 1-0 to the Saints. It marked his sixth of the season and he seems to be building a collection of impressive goals.

Toward the end of the half, Cork sought a penalty when a cross from the right hit McGrath and went out for a corner, but the away side's claims that the ball hit the centre back's hand were dismissed by the referee.

Just after the break, Cork nearly equalised immediately. A corner kick was met by substitute Cian Coleman's head, but luckily for the home side, Anto Breslin was there to clear the ball off the line and maintain the Saints' lead.

Mulraney had another opportunity a few minutes later. After Lennon won the ball in the middle of the field, the winger was played in down the right, cut in like the previous goal, but his strike this time went harmlessly wide.

Brooks' debut ended prematurely as he limped off injured just before the hour mark. After taking a few knocks in the first half, he tried to continue but eventually signalled to the bench that he couldn't go on and was replaced by Jimmy Corcoran.

Conor Carty nearly made it two when his strike hit the post after a good team move from the Athletic.

Both sides used their substitutes as the half went on with Jon Daly making a tactical switch to match Cork's three at the back.

As St. Pats began to sit back, Cork pushed for an equaliser, sending balls into the box, but Dean Lyness comfortably gathered anything within the penalty area.

In additional time, Cork's sustained pressure resulted in a last-minute draw. Another long ball was not dealt with by the Pats' defence, and they failed to clear their lines.

Keating was quick in the box and latched onto the loose ball, driving a left-footed shot past Lyness in the Pats goal, sending the away end into delirium.

This point on the road was significant for Cork, who remain ninth in the league, but they'll view this as a point gained.

The Saints, however, like Dundalk a couple weeks ago, dropped two valuable points from a winning position. More significantly, they missed a crucial chance to close the gap on their Dublin rivals, as Shamrock Rovers also dropped points in Drogheda.

St. Patrick's Athletic: Dean Lyness; Anto Breslin, Harry Brockbank (Adam Murphy 64), Sam Curtis, Jay McGrath; Chris Forrester (Thijs Timmermans 90), Jamie Lennon, Ben McCormack (Thomas Lonergan 74); Conor Carty (Eoin Doyle 74), Mark Doyle (David Norman Jr. 64), Jake Mulraney.
Subs not used: Danny Rogers, Noah Lewis, Mason Melia, Jason McClelland. 
Booked: Jake Mulraney (16), Jamie Lennon (19). 
Sent off: None. 

Cork City: Tiernan Brooks (Jimmy Corcoran 55); Jonas Hakkinen (Cian Coleman 46), Josh Honohan, John O'Donovan (Conor Drinan 56); Cian Bargary, Aaron Bolger (Ally Gilchrist 83), Barry Coffey, Kevin Custovic, Joe O'Brien Whitmarsh; Ruairi Keating, Tunde Owolabi (Cian Murphy 67).
Subs not used: Gordon Walker, Daniel Krezic. 
Booked: Jonas Hakkinen (9), Ruairi Keating (57). 
Sent off: None. 

Referee: David Dunne
Attendance: 3,945 
extratime.com Player of the Match: Sam Curtis (St. Patrick’s Athletic)