Cork City 6 - 1 Athlone TownFri, May 25 2012
They had to come from behind but Cork City safely made it into the third round of the FAI Cup after hat-tricks from Vinny Sullivan and Tadhg Purcell dismantled Athlone Town at Turner’s Cross on Friday night.
It took all of 34 minutes for City to have their first effort on goal but once that arrived, the result was assured within the space four minutes as their deadly attacking duo drilled home three times, before adding another three in the second period.
Up until that point however, they were just not at the races. Passes were going astray, their movement was off and the only communication as the half wore on were complaints and disappointing hand gestures to each other.
Once Sullivan broke the deadlock, the tide quickly turned. That’s not to detract from Athlone’s showing however, because for the first third of the game they were terrific.
Athlone got the start their opening play deserved when, with only four minutes on the clock, Val Feeney’s corner from the left was met by the oncoming forehead of Brian McCarthy. Although he shipped a heavy knock for his troubles it won’t have mattered too much when he dusted himself down as the ball sailed past Mark McNulty.
Noel McGee was next to threaten, while Joe Woods also made Cork stopper McNulty work when he latched onto a poor clearance from Davin O’Neill. That O’Neill was defending in his own box gives you an idea of how frustrating the home side’s start was.
Yet the entire pattern changed when Sullivan drilled home after Gearóid Morrissey’s corner wasn’t cleared from the defence. Like buses, the second arrived within 90 seconds as Morrissey provided once again and Tadhg Purcell guided home.
Sullivan’s second was a beauty on 39 as he flew down the left, checked his run and cut in before lifting a delicious strike over the head of unfortunate Athlone keeper Patrick Jennings.
By that stage, their progression was guaranteed and even though Athlone did their best to claw themselves back into it, their efforts bore no fruit as Sullivan sealed his hat-trick from two yards following good work from Daryl Horgan 11 minutes after the break.
The away team, full of endeavour in the opening third of the tie, tired badly and though the eight topless supporters who made the journey down never stopped singing, their side, in truth, never really threatened McNulty in the second half.
Cork made it five and Purcell added his second with 74 minutes on the clock, the former UCD and Shamrock Rovers man drilling high into the net with fierce venom from a difficult angle on the half volley.
And Purcell cemented his own hat-trick when he fouled by Pat Jennings inside the area and took the penalty himself, drilling right down the middle, with 84 minutes gone to cap off a fantastic night which initially threatened to be a disaster for the Premier Division.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Gavin Kavanagh, Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Daryl Horgan, Shane Duggan, Gearóid Morrissey (Ian Turner 46), Davin O'Neill; Tadhg Purcell, Vinny Sullivan (Stephen Kenny 58).
Subs not used: Stephen Mulcahy, Dan Murray, Kevin Burns, Garry Buckley.
Booked: D Horgan (28).
Athlone Town: Patrick Jennings; Joe Woods, Tommy Barrett, Brian McCarthy (David Brooks 54), Niall Scullion; Jason Hughes, Damien Rushe (Warren Conroy 70), Val Feeney, Brian Gill, Sean Guerins (Ian Sweeney 46); Noel McGee.
Subs not used: Stephen Relihan, Darren Coleman, Garvan Broughall, Brian Collopy.
Booked: Woods (68), Jennings (84).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton (Clare).
Official attendance: 1,589.
Alan Smith has been writing for ExtraTime since 2008. He works as a full-time journalist based in Cork, working as a sub-editor for TCM and freelancing for a range of national titles. Follow him on twitter @alansmith90.