Bray Wanderers 0-1 Cork City
Kieran Sadlier scored the game's only goal as Cork City kept the dream of a league and cup double alive with a 1-0 win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds.
Sadlier redeemed himself for an earlier penalty miss when, just before the hour, he curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner to send the majority away crowd into raptures.
City boss John Caulfield made four changes to the side beaten in the EA Sports Cup semi-final by Shamrock Rovers on Monday with Kieran Sadlier and Gearoid Morrissey among those recalled.
Bray named an unchanged team after arresting a run of four league defeats with a draw at Bohemians last week with Lee Steacy a late replacement for the injured Peter Cherrie.
City had the best of the opening exchanges and registered the first shot in anger when Sadlier drove a poor free kick straight into the wall from a good position. The home side grew into the contest and dominated possession throughout much of the opening period.
Ryan Brennan was denied a penalty when he fell following a tangle of legs with Shane Griffin, but he was on his feet moments later to glance a Karl Moore cross centimetres past the post. City threatened consistently on the counter-attack and a quick throw from Griffin released Sadlier, who motored past Tim Clancy and centred for Karl Sheppard, who couldn't find the target with his finish.
City's high pressing yielded dividends toward the end of the half as they penned Bray in, and Sheppard again went close as he volleyed across goal after he was played in by Steven Beattie.
An excellent change of pace and through ball from Garry Buckley provided the Dubliner with another chance, and this time he hit the target, forcing Steacy to save at his near post.
Brennan went close twice more for the home side as half time approached, heading Kenna's cross onto the top of the net before driving a low shot just beyond the post.
City continued to enjoy the better of the play after the break and they earned a penalty just before the hour as Griffin slalomed through two tackles before being chopped down by Aaron Greene.
Sadlier took the responsibility on himself but his penalty was poorly-struck, Steacy correctly judging the direction and saving just to his right. It was to prove a short reprieve for the Seagulls, however, as Sadlier and Griffin – who had caused countless problems for Keith Buckley – linked up for the game's first goal.
The pair exchanged passes on the edge of the box before Sadlier stepped inside and curled a fabulous shot past the helpless Steacy and into the top corner. Caulfield introduced striker Achille Campion as he sought to get the tie done and dusted within 90 minutes, and the Frenchman should have doubled the lead 20 minutes from time.
After Steacy had missed with his attempted punch on the edge of his six-yard box, the ball broke to Campion and, with the whole goal to aim at, he managed to hit Kenna's leg at the near post. Gary McCabe had Bray's only real chance to snatch a draw as he saw his 30-yard free kick wellsaved by McNulty.
Bray Wanderers: Lee Steacy; Keith Buckley, Tim Clancy, Conor Kenna, Karl Moore; Mark Salmon (Kevin Lynch 84), Darragh Noone (Gary McCabe 64), John Sullivan, Jason Marks (Ger Pender 59), Ryan Brennan; Aaron Greene.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCormack, Robbie Williams (Conor McCarthy 81), Ryan Delaney, Shane Griffin; Greg Bolger, Garry Buckley, Gearoid Morrissey, Kieran Sadlier, Steven Beattie (Achille Campion 61); Karl Sheppard.