League leaders St. Patrick’s Athletic left it late in Inchicore with an injury time penalty from Killian Brennan securing all three points for the Saints against Cork City.
Ciarán Kilduff had put the Leesiders into the lead completely against the run of play in the second half after they lost Kalen Spillane to a straight red card. However, a fine strike from Anto Flood equalised for the league leaders soon after who then besieged the City goal in the last half an hour only to get their reward in the 93rd minute.
Man of the match Mark McNulty was certainly the busier goalkeeper in the first half, a half that gave no indication of the drama that was to come in the second period. The ‘keeper was called upon to make a number of saves from a Pat’s team looking to make it four straight league wins against the Leesiders.
The first real shot in anger in the opening half came from the visiting side on 11 minutes. The ball came out from the Pat’s box to Gearoid Morissey and he cleverly squared the ball to Shane Duggan whose shot was saved by Brendan Clarke low to the ‘keepers left.
A minute earlier the home supporters, along with their striker Anto Flood, were seeking a penalty when Danny Murphy came together with Flood from a Chris Forrester through ball but referee Padraig Sutton correctly waved play on. Pat’s had put Cork under some early pressure with crosses from the left from Chris Forrester and Ian Bermingham. Another Bermingham cross which hit the arm of Neal Horgan had the home fans again calling for a spot kick but it was more of a case of ball to arm than vice versa.
On 20 minutes for Pat’s Conan Byrne on the right stepped inside the City defence and his left foot cross required McNulty to dive full length to prevent the ball nestling in the corner of the Cork net. Greg Bolger was wasteful with the chance that fell to him from the resulting corner.
Pat’s went close just after the half an hour mark when the Saints worked the ball through Anto Flood and John Russell wide on the right. His inviting cross was met by the inrushing Killian Brennan but his header was kept out by the feet of McNulty.
Pat’s put another one of their trademark passing moves together six minutes from the break with Saints captain Ger O’Brien getting forward to get on the end of a John Russell through pass. O’Brien moved the ball to Conan Bryne who sent in another curling cross. This time it was Forrester who got his head to the ball but McNulty was equal to the task, pushing the ball around for a corner.
The teams were deadlocked 0-0 at the break and Cork had a chance just a minute into the second period to go into the lead with Daryl Horgan setting up Garry Buckley for a shot on target. At the other end Forrester forced McNulty into another save after he got on the end of a clever chipped pass by O’Brien.
It was a frenetic opening period and it didn’t relent as on 53 minutes Cork City were reduced to 10 men. Forrester went down in the box looking for a Pat’s penalty and the Cork defence had words with Forrester who they felt had dived. Anto Flood got involved in the discussion with Kalen Spillane and the went head to head resulting in Flood on the ground holding his head. A red card was produced for Spillane with Flood picking up a yellow card. Killian Brennan floated the resulting free kick over the wall with McNulty gathering it as it dipped towards the corner of the net.
Pat’s were putting all sorts of pressure on Cork who managed to clear their lines with a ball over the top falling perfectly for Ciarán Kilduff, who from deep in the Pat’s half arrowed in on goal from the right. Brendan Clarke came out to close the angle but Kilduff tucked the ball between the legs of the ‘keeper to spark joyous scenes amongst the away support a minute short of the hour mark.
The Saints immediately sought and got an equaliser with Brennan playing the ball into Flood. He turned Dan Murray inside and out and lifted his shot from the edge of the box to beat McNulty. A Forrester shot and a Flood header, which came off the bar, almost put Pat’s back in the lead as City sought to shut out their opponents with the extra man in the closing 15 minutes. It seemed like they had managed to do so and hang onto an unlikely draw until Brennan went down in the box. It was the midfielder who duly dispatched the spot kick for a dramatic conclusion to the game.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Kenny Browne, Aidan Price, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Greg Bolger, John Russell (Jake Kelly 72), Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester (Stephen Maher 90); Anthony Flood (Christy Fagan 80).
Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, Conor Kenna, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Sean Gannon.
Booked: Anthony Flood (55), Greg Bolger (65), Aidan Price (87), Killian Brennan (88).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Daryl Kavanagh (Brian Lenihan 65), Shane Duggan, Gearoid Morrissey, Garry Buckley, Daryl Horgan; Ciaran Kilduff.
Subs not used: David Browne (gk), John Dunleavy, Ian Turner, Danny Morrissey, Stephen Kenny, Danny Furlong.
Booked: D Kavanagh (13), Murphy (18), McNulty (53), Kilduff (83).
Sent Off: Spillane (53).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton.
Extratime Man of the Match: Mark McNulty (Cork City).
Macdara made his debut as a football supporter in Lansdowne Road watching Ireland defeat Liechtenstein. He still believes one day he will see his club Shamrock Rovers win an FAI Cup. You can follow Macdara on twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/macdarabueller">@macdarabueller</a>