From Tom Clancy at Markets Field
A second-half brace from Garry Buckley was enough for Cork City to take all three points from Monday’s Munster Derby with Limerick.
The hosts home struggles continue, while the Leesiders have now opened up an eight point gap on third-placed Waterford as City remain just two points behind top of the table Dundalk.
Tommy Barrett was forced into five changes from Friday’s 6-3 win in Waterford, including a late change to the starting team with Will Fitzgerald replacing Barry Maguire at the 11thhour.
City required one change to their starting side that dismantled Bray Wanderers on Friday evening. Conor McCormack was replaced Steven Beattie.
It was a first half that lacked the intensity seen in some previous Munster derbies. The visitors dictated proceedings with Graham Cummins causing Limerick’s centre-half paring consistent difficulties.
The deadlock was nearly broken in accidental fashion ten minutes into the match. Full-back Colm Horgan marched forward and his right wing cross bounced off the top of the cross bar and away.
Conor Clifford attempted to influence Limericks attacking threat, but far too often the linkup between wingers Daniel Kearns and William Fitzgerald failed to serve veteran Mark O’Sullivan sufficiently.
Cummins went close, heading on target from a free-kick routine, while captain Steven Beattie’s effort was blocked, allowing an easy save for Brendan Clarke.
The hosts lost Clifford to injury at the break, and it appeared to hamper the little forward momentum they had.
John Caulfield’s men hit the front on 52 minutes. A long ball from Conor McCarthy caught the Limerick rear-guard asleep and Kieran Sadlier pulled the ball back for Buckley to drill home first time from 12 yards.
Limerick rarely threatened the Cork defence, with substitutes Colm Walsh-O’Loghlen and Karl O’Sullivan willing runners, but they were unable to pass a stubborn City backline. The injuries sustained in Waterford appeared to cost them any chance of a result here.
With just three minutes remaining City sealed the points. Buckley, who wore the captain’s armband after Beattie was replaced, curled a wonderful right footed effort into the top corner from the edge of the Blues penalty area.
Cian Coleman went close with a trio of efforts in stoppage time, all from corners, but it mattered little. The Leesiders secured the win and the cleansheet, arguably, without breaking a sweat.
Limerick travel to Sligo on Satruday evening, while the Rebels travel to Dublin to take on St. Patrick’s Athletic on Friday.
Limerick:Brendan Clarke; Shaun Kelly, Kilian Cantwell, Tony Whitehead, Billy Dennehy; Conor Clifford (Karl O’Sullivan 46), Cian Coleman, Daniel Kearns (Colm Walsh-O’Loghlen 55), Shane Duggan, William Fitzgerald: Mark O’Sullivan.
Subs not used:Tommy Holland (gk); Shane Tracy, Jeff McGowan, Adam Foley.
Booked:Cian Coleman (32).
Cork City:Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan, Conor McCarthy, Sean McLoughlin, Shane Griffin; Jimmy Keohane, Barry McNamee; Kieran Sadlier (Michael Howard 88), Garry Buckley, Steven Beattie (Karl Sheppard 52); Graham Cummins (Josh O’Hanlon 82).
Subs not used:Peter Cherrie (gk), Alan Bennett, Aaron Barry, Conor McCormack, Aaron Barry, Conor McCormack.
Referee: Sean Grant
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Graham Cummins (Cork City)