By Killian McHale
Shamrock Rovers suffered defeat on the road for the first time this season, falling to a narrow 1-0 loss to Cork City in Turner’s Cross on Friday evening, despite finishing the game with eight players on the pitch.
Coming into the game, Rovers head coach Stephen Bradley made three changes to his starting eleven, with Daniel Cleary, Sean Kavanagh & Markus Poom all coming into the side in place of Trevor Clarke, Graham Burke & the suspended Lee Grace.
Rovers controlled the pace of the game from the very first whistle, although it took the Hoops a while to create any clear-cut chances. Our first shooting opportunity fell to Markus Poom after 15 minutes. Good play on the right-hand channel between Neil Farrugia, Jack Byrne & Rory Gaffney, before the ball found Poom on the edge of the box who struck his effort inches over Jimmy Corcoran’s crossbar in the City goal.
Poom’s midfield partner Gary O’Neill was next in line to fire narrowly over the Cork goal on the half-hour mark from distance, after lacklustre defending from the home side.
Moments later Poom played in Richie Towell and looked to have the goal at his mercy, but Corcoran did well to close down the danger and deflect the ball out for a Rovers corner-kick.
The first of many major incidents on the night fell in the 37th minute when Richie Towell was shown a straight red card from an off-the-ball incident with Gordon Walker as the home side was taking a corner.
Despite being a man down, it was Rovers who started the second half on the front foot. A dangerous Jack Byrne cross one minute into the second half just missed the head of Neil Farrugia – much to the relief of the home supporters.
Rovers were reduced to nine men on the hour mark when Johnny Kenny – who only came on the pitch four minutes beforehand – was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle in the centre of the pitch.
And things became even more difficult for the Hoops just three minutes later, when Sean Hoare was shown his second yellow in quick succession when referee Sean Grant adjudged the defender to have committed a foul in front of the Cork City dugout.
Despite having a three-man disadvantage, Rovers were defending immensely with Roberto Lopes in the heart of the defence, as Rovers had the best chance of the game to open the scoring in the 83rd minute when Darragh Nugent headed a Ronan Finn free-kick to the wrong side of Corcoran’s goal in front of the packed out away end.
And despite this, the red cards eventually took their toll on the Hoops when Ruairi Keating tapped home from close-range to give the home side the breakthrough – their first and only shot on target in the game.
Rovers pushed for an equaliser in the closing stages, but despite their efforts, just couldn’t trouble the City defence in the remaining minutes.
Rovers return to Tallaght Stadium next Friday (June 2nd), as Dundalk FC come to town in our latest SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash. Kick-off is at the slightly earlier time of 7:45pm to facilitate live TV broadcast on RTÉ 2
Cork City: Corcoran; Crowley, Hakkinen, Honohan; Walker (82’ O’Donovan), O’Brien Whitmarsh, Bolger ©, Coffey (68’ Krezic), Custovic; Owolabi (82’ Murphy), Keating.
Cork City unused substitutes: Moynihan (GK), Fitzpatrick, Fitzgerald, Henderson, O’Sullivan.
Shamrock Rovers: Pohls; Hoare, Lopes ©, Cleary; Farrugia (67’ Finn), O’Neill, Poom (78’ Greene), Kavanagh; Byrne (78’ Nugent), Towell, Gaffney (56’ Kenny).
Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Leitis (GK), Gannon, Burke, Burt, Noonan.