Hot favourites Cork City took their time to stamp their presence on Monday night’s Premier Division clash against Longford Town at Turner’s Cross but ended up comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to goals either side of half time from Garry Buckley and Colin Healy.
Longford Town took advantage of a cautious start from Cork City and had the better of the opening exchanges, striker Gary Shaw latching on to a delightful through ball and narrowly missing the target with a looping lob over onrushing keeper Mark McNulty.
Shaw was a threat throughout the first half but too often found himself isolated and without the required support to cause damage to the resolute Cork City defence, well marshalled by Dan Murray and Darren Dennehy.
The Cork City midfield slowly took a grip on the game with Liam Miller and Colin Healy pulling the strings. Despite an increasingly dominating performance the Leesiders struggled to convert their possession into chances. A smart turn and snap shot from Billy Dennehy in the 18th minute was snapped up by the Town keeper, Paul Skinner and the same player sent a drive well wide moments later.
Longford Town were starting to sit deeper and yet still managed to create some good chances with captain Stephen Rice having the best of them, heading wide from a corner.
Cork finally found the breakthrough after Billy Dennehy created space on the left wing and put in a looping cross to the far post. Town keeper, Skinner, was deceived by the flight and could only parry the ball into Gary Buckley’s path who promptly nodded home from close range.
The Leesiders started the second half strongly and created a flurry of chances through some fluid moves. Longford keeper pushed a powerful header wide from Mark O’Sullivan, who was becoming increasingly busy linking the play at the apex of Cork’s attacks. And yet it was from a set piece that Cork sealed the game from. Sending a swinging, dipping ball into the box, Colin Healy’s 66th minute free kick evaded all the onrushing attackers and nestled in the corner of Town’s net.
That strike, coupled with a string of substitutions, took the sting out of the game and it descended into a somewhat disjointed affair. Cork produced a few further promising chances with Billy Dennehy making good progress down the right flank.
Longford resisted well and still managed to test the Cork’s keeper, McNulty, albeit late on with David O’Sullivan diverting a smart cross from a lively Kaleem Simon into his waiting hands. Despite the lack of opportunities for their team the Longford support were constantly vocal during what was an otherwise dispiriting match for Town.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Kavanagh, Darren Dennehy, Dan Murray, Ross Gaynor; Kieran Djilali (Rob Lehane 55), Colin Healy, Garry Buckley, Liam Miller (Gavan Holohan 81 mins), Billy Dennehy; Mark O’Sullivan (Danny Morrissey 71).
Subs not used: Alan Smith (gk), Alan Bennett, Josh O’Shea, Liam Kearney.
Longford Town: Paul Skinner; Jamie Mulhall, Pat Flynn, Willie Tyrell, Conor Powell; Kaleem Simon, Stephen Rice, Kevin O’Connor, Rhys Gorman (Lorcan Shannon 77), Martin Deady (Ayman Ben Mohamed 65); Gary Shaw (David O’Sullivan 73).
Subs not used: Dan Henderson (gk), Tony Morris, Mark Salmon, Mark Rossiter.
Booked: Deady (53), Gorman (66).
Referee: Jim McKell
Official Attendance: 2,511
ExtraTime Man of the Match: Liam Miller (Cork City)