Cork close gap at top with battling win
Cork City 3 Shamrock Rovers 0
While Cork City were deserving winners of this clash at Turner's Cross last night, the final scoreline masked what threatened at times to be quite a frustrating night for the home side.
The upshot of this victory - following on from the 5-0 win over the same opposition at Tallaght last week in the FAI Cup - is that John Caulfield's side have now closed to within seven points of Premier Division leaders Dundalk with a game in hand, but the win was only secured when Greg Bolger's late penalty made it 2-0 before a Garry Buckley wonder-strike inflated the final advantage.
When Seán Maguire scored for the Rebel Army inside seven minutes, the home faithful must have assumed that something similar to the cup rout lay in store.
They were given a great start as Kenny Browne's clearance wasn't dealt with by Rovers defender Seán Heaney, allowing Maguire to seize possession. As the defence retreated, he let off a low left-footed shot from inside the box, the ball going in off the post.
Just before the break, Heaney made a great sliding tackle on Gearóid Morrissey in the area, timing it perfectly when he had to do so.
Early in the second half, City tried to engineer something from a set piece but Maguire shot well over after Greg Bolger's low free kick to him, and then, just after the hour, Sheppard was unlucky to have been just offside when he acrobatically sent the ball to the net from Kevin O'Connor's delivery.
Rovers subs Gary Shaw and Killian Brennan had equalising chances, but it was Bolger who looked to have had the final say, sending his spot-kick to the top-left corner after Dooley was fouled by Shane Hanney in the area.
There was still time, though, for Buckley to pile on the Rovers agony with a wonderful long-range effort after O'Connor laid the ball off to him following a good win.