Perfect 10 for Cork City as Preston North End boss shows up to watch Maguire

St Patrick’s Athletic 0

Cork City 3

Ben Blake reports from Richmond Park 

CORK CITY CONTINUED their perfect start to the 2017 campaign with a 10th consecutive league victory at Richmond Park tonight.

John Caulfied’s side had to scrap tirelessly throughout the 90 minutes and found an opener on 62 minutes thanks to a Josh O’Hanlon own goal.

Karl Sheppard then added a second in the dying minutes — his sixth league goal of the season — and Garry Buckley wrapped things up in injury-time.

Preston North End manager Simon Grayson and club consultant Peter Ridsdale were among the 1,768 in attendance, with reports that the Championship club are keen on adding Sean Maguire to their ranks.

Liam Buckley, whose side drew 1-1 with Galway United last time out, made four changes with Michael Barker, Sam Verdon, Darragh Markey and O’Hanlon all coming in. Christy Fagan and Darren Dennehy remained out through injury.

Cork had Jimmy Keohane ruled out with a shoulder problem, but Steven Beattie passed a fitness test to start at full-back. Captain Alan Bennett, Kevin O’Connor, Gearoid Morrissey, Conor McCormack and top scorer Maguire returned to the team after Monday’s EA Sports Cup win over Limerick.

Preston North End manager Simon Grayson and Peter Ridsdale watching on.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

O’Hanlon had a bright start for the home side but his shot on goal after five minutes — the first of the night — was a simple save for Mark McNulty.

Michael Barker won the Saints a free-kick just outside the box on 25 minutes, and Kurtis Byrne stepped up but couldn’t hit the target.

The league leaders should really have scored three minutes later when O’Connor’s cut-back found Sheppard. The Dubliner, who hit a stunning strike in Dalymount Park a week ago, blazed over on his weaker left foot.

As the half drew to a close, Cork saw an effort come back off the post. Dooley’s cross was met by the head of Ryan Delaney and the ball struck the upright before a goal-line scramble ensued.

A Pat’s free-kick was then floated into the box and Gavin Peers put it back across goal where Rory Feely headed tamely at McNulty. But going in at the break, Buckley will have been content with the first half display.

Karl Sheppard celebrates his goal.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Buoyed by their performance in the opening 45 minutes, Pat’s grew in confidence and had a bright spell at the beginning of the second half.

Cork lost their captain to injury as Bennett hobbled off to be replaced by John Dunleavy, but then went in front just after the half mark.

A free-kick from O’Connor appeared to come off the leg of O’Hanlon and beat his own keeper Conor O’Malley.

Going in search of a second, Maguire was brought down just outside the box and O’Connor’s set-piece  off the post.

Former Rebels winger Billy Dennehy was brought on for the closing minutes and his free-kick forced McNulty into a top class save.

But Sheppard latched onto Maguire’s flick to blast home off O’Malley to double their advantage.

The 90 minutes had elapsed when Cork produced the pick of the goals. Maguire and substitute Shane Griffin were involved to tee up Buckley, who coolly lobbed the ball in from just outside the box.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Carl O’Malley; Michael Barker, Gavin Peers, Rory Feely, Ian Bermingham; Sam Verdon, Lee Desmond, Darragh Markey (JJ Lunney); Conan Byrne, Kurtis Byrne (Billy Dennehy 78), Josh O’Hanlon.

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Ryan Delaney, Alan Bennett (c) (John Dunleavy 50), Kevin O’Connor, Conor McCormack (Greg Bolger 65), Gearoid Morrissey, Garry Buckley, Karl Sheppard, Sean Maguire  Stephen Dooley (Shane Griffin 83).

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