Belfast Telegraph

Candystripes earn Euro reward as Cork finally secure crown


By Eoin Wilson

Cork City finally claimed the League of Ireland Premier Division title by getting the point they needed against Derry City in a lacklustre affair at Turner's Cross.

The game - marred by controversy because of the decision to play in the wake of storm Ophelia, which caused damage to the stadium - was ultimately one to forget, although home fans will remember it as the night they finally clinched the title for the first time since 2005.

But after a barnstorming start to the season, in which they went as many as 16 points clear at one stage, John Caulfield's side have limped over the line, failing to win a league game since August, allowing dethroned champions Dundalk to cut their lead at the top down to six points.

The draw also suited the Candystripes, who have now secured at least fourth place and with it Europa League football for next season. They missed the chance to leapfrog Shamrock Rovers into third by not winning, but with just two games remaining it is still possible for Kenny Shiels' men to match their third place finish from last term.

Despite almost 6,000 fans in attendance at Turner's Cross to see a possible coronation, it was Derry who had the best of the chances in a quiet first half, with Rory Patterson almost adding to his double against Finn Harps when he attempted to catch Mark McNulty off his line with a chip, but the Cork goalkeeper just got back in time to tip the ball over the crossbar for a corner.

Midway through the half, Derry really should have taken the lead when Aaron McEneff's right wing corner found Harry Monaghan completely unmarked just six yards from goal, but the midfielder somehow headed over McNulty's bar when it seemed easier to score.

Cork offered little in return, their best effort in the first 45 minutes a Garry Buckley free kick from 20 yards which was comfortably dealt with by Gerard Doherty.

Derry continued in their attempts to spoil the party in the second half and an eye-catching run by Conor McDermott down the right almost resulted in a chance for Ben Doherty coming in at the back post, but it was taken off his toe by Steven Beattie.

Cork had one big chance to take the lead and secure their title in more convincing fashion on 72 minutes when a long ball forward saw Aaron Barry caught out and Karl Sheppard went one on one with Doherty.

But rather than take the shot on himself, Sheppard attempted to find a team mate with a cut back, which allowed Darren Cole to get in and clear the danger for Derry.

In the end it didn't matter, as the point from yet another draw was ultimately enough for Cork to be crowned champions at long last.

Cork: McNulty, Bennett, Delaney, Keohane, McCormack, Beattie, Dooley (Sadlier, 61 mins), Morrissey, Sheppard, Griffin, Buckley.

Derry: Doherty, McDermott, Barry, Cole, Jarvis (Low, 77 mins), Monaghan, McEneff, McNamee, Doherty, Curtis, Patterson.

Man of the Match: Darren Cole

Match rating: 5/10

Referee: Ray Matthews

Belfast Telegraph

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