St Pat’s 0 Cork City 3
Week after week, Cork City rack up the wins and week after week they look more and more like champions.
And the rest of the league can only wonder what will happen when John Caulfield's outfit, who were off-colour for spells and needed an hour to finally break down a Saints side mired in a relegation battle, hit their peak and really play well on a weekly basis.
A 3-0 defeat of St Patrick's Athletic in Dublin last night, courtesy of three second-half goals, was their 10th win from 10 league games this term, a stunning string of results from a side who had grown frustratingly accustomed to finishing second-best to Dudalk of late.
That win sees them retain their nine-point lead of the chasing pack of Dundalk and Bray Wanderers while Pat's remain in the relegation zone and could even be pushed into the bottom two should Sligo Rovers, with new boss Ger Lyttle in charge for the first time tonight, win their game.
Cork can, and will, play better and it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of Preston manager Simon Grayson, and his associate Peter Ridsdale on his scouting mission to Dublin last night.
Pleased with his signing, on a free transfer, of Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan, Grayson clearly sees potential in the league here as a source of talent and Cork striker Seán Maguire, the league's top scorer this term, was the main reason he came to Richmond Park.
Maguire was, in the main, having a quiet night and his former Sligo Rovers team-mate Gavin Peers, now in the Pat's defence, didn't let Maguire out of his sight all night, a frustrating spell for the striker.
But he made an impact late on, first by winning a free kick on 68 minutes, Kevin O'Connor striking the free off the post, and then five minutes from time when he set up Karl Sheppard to score Cork's second.
City had to wait until the 62nd minute for their lead goal, a scrappy affair which was credited to Cork defender Ryan Delaney but which appears to have been an own goal, Pat's unable to clear from O'Connor's cross into the box and somehow the ball crept past Saints keeper Conor O'Malley.
Once in front the result was never in doubt and further goals, from Karl Sheppard and Garry Buckley, only served to aid the league leaders' goal difference.
The Saints had put their fans through a fair bit of misery this season and a record of just one clean sheet in nine games before last night did not bode well as they faced up to a free-scoring Cork side.
But Pat's looked composed and in control from early on, though for all their possession the home side were unable to trouble Cork keeper Mark McNulty too much.
In fact the best scoring chance of the fist half came, almost against the run of play, to Cork. A Kevin O'Connor corner kick found its way to Ryan Delaney and his headed effort came off the post.
But a half-time lead for the away side would have been unjust as Pat's had been on top for spells. Josh O'Hanlon posed a threat twice in the opening eight minutes but was unable to make anything of his efforts while on 27 minutes a Kurtis Byrne free kick was just over the crossbar, Byrne testing McNulty with another set piece moments later and just before the break, defender Kevin Feely had a tame header saved by the City keeper.
Failing to make that possession count would cost the home side and once City went in front, the Saints had no way back. Cork's second goal, from Sheppard on 85 minutes, was preventable while Buckley was given time and space to score his side's third goal in injury time.
In front of a crowd of 1,768 this was another worrying night for Pat's who face into tough away days against Derry City and an in-form Bray Wanderers, the aim now for the Dublin 8 club to move out of the bottom three at least.