A dramatic late equaliser from substitute Darren Tinnelly earned a point for struggling Shelbourne at Turner’s Cross on Friday evening, as they fought back from a goal down in the dying seconds.
Danny Murphy sent Cork City into the lead just past the hour mark, before the ball fell to Tinnelly in the penalty area in the 94th minute - who happily fired home with literally the last kick of the game.
The draw will come as a real sucker punch to the home side, who this season have developed a very worrying habit of conceding last minute goals. City were undoubtedly the better side for the whole game, dominating virtually every blade of grass on the field.
The end result is all that matters however, and what a result it is for Shelbourne. Languishing at the bottom of the table with just a point to their name going into the match, they will now undoubtedly be over the moon to have secured such a morale-boosting point.
The reverse could be said for Tommy Dunne’s Cork side. The late goal will certainly damage their spirit and fight, and with less than ideal timing – after all, they do welcome Shamrock Rovers to the ‘Cross for the second leg of the Setanta Cup semi-final on Monday night.
The first chance of any real note went to Cork City’s Ian Turner. The winger drifted in off the right flank before letting rip a shot that sailed harmlessly wide of the target with his weaker foot.
Shelbourne then threw their first punch of the night with ten minutes on the clock. Craig Mooney laid the ball off to the oncoming Stephen Hurley, who almost completed his march down the right side with a goal – only to see it parried to safety by Mark McNulty.
The 2,275 patrons present were heard to let out a roar of frustration a quarter of an hour later, when they witnessed a move that could have been one of the best seen at Turner’s Cross so far this season.
It was the home side’s trequarista Daryl Kavanagh who received the ball at the edge of the box before beating a number of opposing men and rolling his shot agonisingly wide of the target, in a display of audacious quick feet.
Kavanagh was arguably the best player on the park for the first half, and was in the thick of things once again just minutes later. This time, he slid through an inch-perfect pass to find Ian Turner, who flashed a shot inches wide that really should have found the target.
City started the second half as they had finished the first, pressing forward in search of a possible winner. Daryl Horgan came in off the left wing in a trademark move by the wide-man, before curling an effort into the far corner - but the Shels net-minder Niall Burdon managed to get across the face of goal in time to make the save.
They finally broke through the Shels defence just past the hour mark, to take a much deserved lead. A Shelbourne player was down on the pitch injured at the time, but City played on nonetheless. The ball eventually came to Daryl Horgan, who fizzed in a ball from the left side which Danny Murphy happily stabbed home once the chance arose, after some ping-pong in the penalty area.
The hosts had the ball in the net once again just five minutes later, but this time saw it ruled out. Ian Turner whipped in a corner kick from the left side which Denis Behan met with a powerful header and steered into the back of the net - but the referee immediately disallowed it, as Behan was adjudged to have jumped unfairly in the box.
Then, with what was literally the last kick of the game, Shelbourne got a dramatic equaliser. The ball bounced to Darren Tinnelly in the penalty area, who pounced on it and fired home, to break the hearts of all the City fans present and send the men from Dublin into unadulterated jubilation.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Dan Murray, Darren Dennehy, Danny Murphy; Ian Turner, Gearoid Morrissey, Colin Healy, Daryl Horgan (Adam Rundle, 90+3); Daryl Kavanagh (Danny Morrissey, 88), Denis Behan
Subs not used: Kevin Burns (gk), Shane Duggan, Danny Furlong, Kalen Spillane, Garry Buckley.
Booked: Healy (18), Dennehy (54), G Morrissey (60), D Horgan (77)
Shelbourne: Niall Burdon; Pat Flynn, Brian Shorthall, Ian Ryan, Jack Memery; Adam Hanlon, Stephen Hurley, Paul Crowley, Robert Bayly (Darren Tinnelly, 83), Craig Mooney (Philly Hughes, 62); Dean Kelly.
Subs not used: Ger Hanley (goalkeeper), Philip McCabe, Sean Brennan, Alex Prizeman, Stephen Sheerin.
Booked: Bayly (27), Kelly (28), Crowley (54)
Referee: Dave McKeon.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Daryl Horgan (Cork City).