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Reds semi-final hopes are rocked by rampant Rebels

Cork City 2 Cliftonville 0

Cliftonville have it all to do in Setanta Sports Group 1 following a 2-0 defeat to Cork City at Turner's Cross last night.

There's no doubting the better side won, but Cliftonville will be disappointed that having weathered the first half storm they conceded two goals after enjoying their own best spell of the game.

John O'Flynn and Dave Mooney netted within minutes of one another to secure home points and leave the Reds trailing in the standings at the Group's half-way stage.

The game started at a frantic pace with Cliftonville very much under the cosh in the opening stages when they had Aaron Smyth to thank for lashing a George O'Callaghan effort off the line.

O'Callaghan was a part of everything good about Cork's attacking play, linking up superbly with the mercurial Liam Kearney as the hosts bombarded the Reds time and again.

Cliftonville created a few openings of their own with George McMullan and Mark Holland both hitting the side netting while Holland was unfortunate to lose his footing just when he looked to be getting on the end of Chris Scannell's cross.

At the other end Reds goalkeeper John Connolly produced two wonderful stops to keep O'Callaghan at bay and John O'Flynn dragged a shot wide after skipping past Ronan Scannell.

Dave Mooney should have done better from close range but his right-footed shot cleared the stand before the half concluded with Connolly once again repelling an O'Callaghan strike.

The second period began with O'Flynn heading straight at Connolly just moments before McMullan thundered a drive over the Cork bar.

The Reds were finding possession easier to come by but opportunities were at a premium and Ryan Catney, Chris Scannell and Barry Johnston might have tried their luck from good positions rather than attempting to pick out a pass.

City's opener came midway through the second half when Connolly produced an excellent reaction stop to deny man-of-the-match Kearney but O'Flynn was there to convert the rebound.

Mooney nodded home a corner just minutes later and the hosts saw out the game comfortably thereafter with David McAlinden's header just over the bar the nearest the Belfast side came to a reply.

CORK CITY: Devine, Horgan, Mulcahy, Lordan, Danny Murphy, O'Callaghan, Healy, Gamble, Kearney, Mooney, O'Flynn. Subs: Sullivan for Mulcahy (51mins), O'Connor for O'Flynn (83mins), Darren Murphy for O'Callaghan (86mins).

CLIFTONVILLE: Connolly, Smyth, McAlinden, O'Hara, R. Scannell, O'Connor, Catney, Johnston, McMullan, Holland, C. Scannell. Subs: Fleming for O'Connor (77mins), Campbell for Holland (77mins).

Belfast Telegraph

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