Danny Morrissey of Finn Harps closes down Cork's Conor McCormack during Monday night's game. . Photo: Stephen Doherty.
With one hand already on the Premier Division league trophy, Cork City took another step closer to securing the title when they got the better of Finn Harps on Monday night.
Finn Harps . . . 0
Cork City . . . 1
In front of the live TV cameras of RTE, Harps did their best to make it a difficult night for the champions-elect and the home side certainly couldn’t be faulted for effort and commitment.
But Cork are a classy outfit and while they had to wait until the 69th minute before making the breakthrough, they were worthy winners.
They’d created countless good chances as they took the game to Harps in the first half. However, Harps somehow managed to hold out and got in at half-time on level terms.
Ollie Horgan’s side were much more offensive after the break and while they struggled to create any openings of their own, they enjoyed some decent spells of possession.
But Cork always carried the greater threat and they eventually got the goal their performance deserved when Garry Buckley bundled the ball home on 69 minutes.
Harps, back in the relegation zone after their weekend loss at St. Pat’s, were dealt a blow before kick-off when Packie Mailey pulled up in the warm-up and his place in defence went to Damien McNulty.
Paddy McCourt was included from the start after his recent suspension and Danny Morrissey, playing against his former club, was deployed as the lone front man.
Harps started brightly and looked confident in possession. However, Cork didn’t take long to get into their stride and they were soon in control of the game.
Kieran Sadlier had the game’s first chance, shooting just wide of the post on 22 minutes, and soon after Gearoid Morrissey headed inches over Ciaran Gallagher’s crossbar.
For long periods of the half, Harps really struggled to gain a foothold in the game. Houston shot well over after a rare period of pressure from the home side.
But within a minute, Gallagher was called into action again, producing a finger-tip save to deny Sadlier.
Just before the break, Harps had another lucky escape when Keohane ghosted in from the right to meet a Sadlier delivery but he flashed his header the wrong side of the post.
Harps were able to regroup at half-time and and in the early stages of the second half, they managed to cause Cork a few moments of concern.
That said, John Caulfield’s Cork continued to carry the greater threat and Ciaran Gallagher produced a couple of quality saves, including one from a Sheppard header just before the hour.
The introduction of Ibrahim Kieta on 62 minutes coincided with Harps’ best spell in the game and suddenly the home side began to threaten a goal of their own.
But Cork eventually hit the front when from a corner kick, Ryan Delaney’s header bounced back off the post and was bundled home by Buckley.
The win means Cork City move a massive 17 points clear of Dundalk in second with just seven games remaining. Harps remain in the bottom three, a point behind Sligo Rovers, with one game less played.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Ethan Boyle, Ciaran Coll, Damien McNulty, Killian Cantwell, Tommy McBride (Jonny Bonner 86), Mark Timlin (Pascal Millien 78), Paddy McCourt, Sean Houston, Danny Morrissey (Ibrahim Kieta 62), Gareth Harkin.
Cork City: Mark McNulty, Steven Beattie, Shane Griffin, Alan Bennett, Ryan Delaney, Gearoid Morrissey, Jimmy Keohane, Conor McCormick, Gary Buckley, Karl Sheppard, Kieran Sadlier (Connor Ellis 87).
Referee: Paul Tuite.