Shamrock Rovers 2-2 Cork City
The second instalment of a Hoops-Cork City trilogy was played at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon when the clubs met at Under 19 level. Tomorrow the Hoops’ Under 17s will travel to Bishopstown for an equally important game as that of today.
The Hoops began very positively this afternoon winning two corners as against nil for Cork within the first eleven minutes. A great move involving right full Conor Fitzharris and left full Conor Gleeson led to Dean Dillon having a crack at goal which came back off the crossbar. Just two minutes later James Doona brought off a good save from City ‘keeper Dave Coffey with a long drive. It took the Cork lads a while to settle but they began to come into it midway through the first half. Some really good marking by Gleeson on Denzil Hernandez in the 24th minute saw off a piece of potential danger on the left of Rovers’ box.
Evan White, playing in the centre of the park, caught Cork out by surprise on the half hour mark after Doona set him up with a chance from which Coffey had to save at the expense of a corner.
The visitors took the lead in the 34th minute after enduring some heavy pressure from the Hoops. Cian Murphy, a player with a reputation for scoring goals, had been introduced as a substitute and it didn’t take him long to have an impact. Straight after a Rovers’ attack Murphy was sent on a run down the left before evading the challenge of Sean Callan and unleashed a shot that crossed the line and into the net. Matters were leveled very quickly though and within a minute Mikey O’Connor scored the first of his two goals after he showed great persistence shaking off the attention of two City defenders to drive into the net to Coffey’s right.
Rovers were playing really well with O’Connor even trying a long-range effort in the 42nd minute from just inside the Cork half!
The second half was very even between the sides for a long time but the visitors did have a good opening in the 56th minute when Jordan O’Regan took possession from Hernandez but the ever alert Cian Collins put in a brilliant tackle to stifle any danger. City enjoyed a good spell of pressure as the Hoops dropped back and in the 65th minute goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu made an important save from Murphy by managing to get down in a crowded area and deflecting the ball away from the line and back out.
It was the Hoops though who should have scored in the 71st minute. O’Connor shook off a defender and picked out Harry Cornally who had run into the centre, the midfielder in turn turned to his left and spotted Dean Dillon unmarked before switching to the striker who proceeded to bring off a stunning save from Coffey. Two minutes later City went in front when the ball went crashing into the net with Bazunu at the opposite post. It looked like Cian Bargary was the scorer but Bazunu’s position suggested it had taken a deflection and the referee later confirmed that the ball had come off Conor Gleeson to go into the net.
The Hoops had a penalty appeal for handball turned down in the 78th minute but two minutes later they did find the net again to make it 2-2. Evan White lobbed the Cork defence and O’Connor burst forward to meet it and knock it over the line. Doona hit the side netting seven minutes later.
The draw suited Rovers better than Cork who will now need to beat the Hoops by a sizable margin in the final game of the group stages to be certain of qualifying for the top four. To guarantee their place the Hoops just need to ensure they don’t lose that game.
Shamrock Rovers: 1. Gavin Bazunu; 2. Conor Fitzharris, 21. Sean Callan, 16. Cian Collins, 3. Conor Gleeson; 7. Emmanuel Lawal, 6. Evan White, 8. Harry Cornally, 18. Dean Dillon, 17. James Doona; 9. Mikey O’Connor.
Substitutes: 19. Josh Hogan (for Lawal 75 mins), 11. Adam Doyle, 10. Luke Kiely (for Doona 89 mins).
Report and photos by Robert Goggins.