Cork City 1-0 Bray Wanderers
Champions Cork City finished their SSE Airtricity League season in style as they defeated Bray Wanderers 1-0 at Turners Cross on Friday night.
Conor McCormack’s solitary strike midway through the first half was enough to earn City the confidence-boosting three points ahead of next week’s FAI Cup final showdown with Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium, where they will look to secure the double.
Roared on by a crowd of 5,768, the Leesiders started brightly and they threatened to take the lead after just two minutes but Karl Sheppard side-footed his shot harmlessly wide of the near post.
Midfielder Conor McCormack, who recently signed a new two-year deal with the club, forced Bray keeper Peter Cherrie into making a save with a strike from distance before Jimmy Keohane turned a difficult header over the bar after 12 minutes.
Kieran Sadlier went close to following up his sensational strike against St Pat's last week with another stunning strike after 18 minutes but his half-volley from the edge of the Bray box drifted just wide of the bottom right corner.
But the champions finally got the lead that their performance thoroughly deserved midway through the first half for the first goal scored by a Cork City player at Turner's Cross since Garry Buckley netted against Galway United on the 28 July.
And the goal came about in fortuitous circumstances as Jason Marks, under pressure from Kieran Sadlier, deflected the ball into the path of a gracious McCormack, who calmly tucked the ball past the keeper from close range.
Sadlier remained a threat to the Wanderers rear-guard as he again went close to adding his name to the scoresheet but his fierce drive from range was parried to safety by Peter Cherrie.
Bray finally had their first attempt at goal as the opening period drew to a close but Mark Salmon was unable to direct his shot past Mark McNulty at his near post.
The half time break afforded City the chance to parade the clubs previous two title-winning sides of 1992 and 2005 whilst the Cork City women received their own ovation as they prepare for their own FAI Cup final against UCD Waves next Sunday.
That set the tone for the second half which lacked intensity and genuine goal-scoring opportunities.
Sadlier’s display secured him the man of the match award but he couldn’t cap it with a goal as the former Sligo Rovers man was denied by an incredible Cherrie save after 71 minutes.
Stephen Dooley almost added a second late on but after Karl Sheppard’s initial shot was saved, the winger couldn’t nod the rebound into the empty net.
But it was of little consequence as City hung on to claim their first win since beating Finn Harps in Ballybofey on the 21 August before finally collecting the league trophy.
CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Alan Bennett (Steven Beattie 91), Robbie Williams, Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack, Jimmy Keohane; Connor Ellis (Garry Buckley 65), Kieran Sadlier (Gearoid Morrissey 91), Stephen Dooley; Karl Sheppard.
BRAY WANDERERS: Peter Cherrie; Calvin Rogers (Luke Rossiter 86), Hugh Douglas, Derek Foran, Karl Moore; Mark Salmon (Ger Pender 69), John Sullivan; Darragh Noone, Gary McCabe (Jake Ellis 80), Jason Marks; Aaron Greene.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).