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Sunday 17 June 2018

Cork title party is still on hold

Bohemians 0 Cork City 0

Bohemians’ Ismahil Akinade (l) is foiled by Cork City keeper Mark McNulty during last night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division draw at Dalymount Park
Bohemians’ Ismahil Akinade (l) is foiled by Cork City keeper Mark McNulty during last night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division draw at Dalymount Park

And so, the interminable wait goes on for Cork City as the league title remains in sight, but not in their hands just yet.

Bohemians were the first side to beat Cork this season and expose something of a chink in their armour, and the Gypsies again played their part in a double scenario which denied City a title which was almost theirs.

Cork's 0-0 draw at Dalymount Park, combined with a narrow win for Dundalk at home to Bray Wanderers, means that the title race lingers on. Again. It's still in Cork's hands and a point at home to Derry City on Monday would see them crowned champions, for the first time since 2005, and they'd still have two games to spare.

"We're a step closer. We'll look forward to Monday night at the Cross. It will be rocking," said Cork skipper Alan Bennett.

A season which saw Cork threaten greatness - just two points dropped from the first 21 games, where Sean Maguire was on fire for John Caulfield's side- has turned into a grind, in the absence of that goal machine Maguire.

A large travelling support padded out the Dalymount Park crowd of 2,766, Cork fans heading to Dublin in numbers hoping to see a coronation.

But Cork's struggles go on - one win in six now - as Dundalk keep winning - though the consolation for City is that it remains in their hands: avoid defeat at home to Derry on Monday and they are champions of Ireland. Cork haven't done enough since Maguire's exit and they didn't do enough last night. They were unlucky not to win a first -half penalty but they were also fortunate to keep Bohs at bay in the second half and in the end, a point was fair and leaves them in control, at least.

Tension has been an unwanted presence in the Cork side for weeks, months even, since the departure of Maguire.

City's seemingly unstoppable push for the title ran aground with a poor run: initial hopes of having the title mathematically secured by August faded away, as the season went on into September, then October.

It was still set up for City to celebrate in Dublin last night, though: a win over Bohs and the league was theirs, while there was that backdoor of getting a draw and still celebrating, should Dundalk drop points.

But Bohs have been something of a bogey side for Cork in recent seasons, and were indeed the first team to beat City in the league this season.

And Cork would have wondered if there was some sort of curse on them in this fixture when they were denied that penalty on 18 minutes. Greg Bolger played in a good ball for Karl Sheppard, he sped into the box and was taken down by the onrushing Shane Supple.

The City fans in the Shed end felt it was a penalty, as did most people in the ground, but ref Rob Harvey was not one of them and he waved play on, much to the frustration of Sheppard.

Mainly due to the denial of that penalty it had been a grating first half for City but things were still going their way as Dundalk were still being held at home to Bray.

But the second half wasn't going to plan for Cork and Bohs posed far more of a threat. On 53 minutes the impressive Kavanagh tested McNulty, Akinade close on 59 minutes when he worked his way to the box and got in a shot which was blocked on the line by Shane Griffin.

The Gypsies kept at Cork, McNulty saving from Dylan Hayes while Corcoran was just wide with a 71st minute header.

Late on, news came through that Dundalk had done what Cork failed to do, score.

On to a manic Monday.

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