10 man Cork City go top after 1-0 win at Galway

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10 man Cork City go top after 1-0 win at Galway

Matt Healy’s latest piledriver was sufficient for Cork City to win at Eamonn Deacy Park and dislodge Galway United for top spot in the First Division.

Peaches of long-range efforts against Waterford and Treaty United were followed by this sumptuous strike on 18 minutes to silence a raucous crowd of 4,500 for the top-of-the-table clash.

City had to navigate the last 25 minutes a man down after Ruairí Keating was dismissed for violent conduct but David Harrington, in the week he received his first Ireland U21 call-up, was hardly troubled.

Credit must go to the rest of his defence who collectively can be proud of not conceding in the final half hour of any match this season.

With seven wins in a row behind them, John Caulfield stuck with the same starting team while Cork’s sole change from last week’s stalemate against Wexford was Josh Honohan replacing Barry Coffey.

The defender’s elevation into the back-three allowed Colin Healy push Cian Coleman into midfield, adding a steely dimension to counteract the breakers from deep so effective to Galway’s success.

Ever since these two trailblazed away from pre-season title favourites Waterford, the excitement surrounding this fixture was building. Home support for both sides has followed but this showdown was sure to attract the largest attendance at Deacy Park since last year’s playoff.

Plotlines and points spiked demand for tickets but John Caulfield wasn’t embracing the pre-match build-up, refusing to engage with media during the week. Rather than a personal decision over his Cork links or speculation linking him with the Sligo Rovers vacancy, he revealed he was under orders from his board.

Given his tensions with the last Cork board he served under, and the extra funds coming his way from his current one backed by new owners, the Comer brothers, he’d be minded to stay onside. Nevertheless, it was a baffling approach during an era the First Division fraternity complain of coverage deficits.

Those that came along, including a sizeable away contingent from City, got their money’s worth on a night a mistake or piece of magic was likely to be decisive.

Two of City’s rocks this season, David Harrington and Ally Gilchrist, seemed to let the atmosphere cloud their judgement when a mix-up gifted Galway a corner after only two minutes. Only half-cleared, Gary Boylan couldn’t keep his shot down to punish the sloppiness.

Healy had pinpointed his opponents’ prowess from set-pieces as integral to their game-plan but Cork are capable of using them to their strengths as well. Cian Bargary’s throw-ins have led to a few goals this season and Galway struggled to deal with a few of early sideline scuds.

Keating was the first to work a goalkeeper, his left-foot shot on the run nine minutes in forcing Conor Kearns to stoop low and turn around his near post.

Shortly afterwards, former City winger Ed McCarthy – who scored Galway’s winner in the February meeting at Turner’s Cross – raced from his own half into the Cork box only to lose his footing as he was primed to unload.

That’s exactly what Healy succeeded in doing with optimal execution. When the ball was sprayed wide to wing-back Kevin O’Connor, he slipped inside and rolled the ball to the Ipswich Town loanee.

Galway have former Cork staff operating as opposition analysts but needed only to view Healy’s showreel to be aware of his threat once space is afforded. Needing just one touch to control and a moment to glance up, he let rip with a shot into the top corner.

It was almost 2-0 four minutes later when Keating’s strike partner Conor Murphy smacked a shot off the post but he might have been better falling rather than keeping his balance when his heels were clipped by Diego Portilla.

The leaders needed a response and nearly got it on 28 minutes but for the brilliance of David Harrington.

Wilson Waweru rose tall at the back post to plant his header back across goal but the goalkeeper stuck out a hand and from Stephen Walsh’s rebound, Honohan was behind him on the line to clear.

As the interval loomed, Waweru nodded a similar opportunity wide and had a tame claim for a penalty turned down.

Also during those closing stages, a clash of heads with Killian Broder forced Keating to don a bandage around his head and he lost the opening four minutes of the second half while fresh dressing was applied.

Whatever was going on, the experienced striker appeared to lose his head when seeing red on 68 minutes. Retreating into his own half off the ball, his tangle with Portilla left the Spaniard on the ground clutching his head and the Galway bench screaming for action.

Referee Oliver Moran awaited assistance through his earpiece before sending off the striker who responded to the goading by gesturing about the scoreline.

Harrington commanded his area in the second half, racing to collect a barrage of crosses, but Galway’s failure to test him – even with an extra man – was their biggest failing. Waweru’s shot that blazed over was the most they could muster.

GALWAY UNITED: C Kearns; M Hemmings (F Lomboto 81), D Portilla (C O’Keefe 77), K Brouder, A Murphy; C McCormack, D Hurley; E McCarthy (R Manning 77), G Boylan (M Dimas 46), W Waweru (J Ademayo 84); S Walsh.

CORK CITY: D Harrington; J Häkkinen, A Gilchrist, J Honohan; C Bargary, C Coleman, M Healy (D Crowley 87), A Bolger, K O’Connor; C Murphy (R Hurley 82), R Keating.

REFEREE: Oliver Moran.

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