Cian Leonard’s 85th-minute header broke Limerick hearts as they let slip what would have been a well-deserved point, with Cork City continuing their 100 percent record with a come-from-behind 2-1 win in the Under-17 National League at Bishopstown on Saturday afternoon.
The young Shannonsiders had broken the deadlock inside four minutes when Barry Cotter supplied the assist for Shane ‘Georgie’ Fletcher who scored for the third game running despite the ‘keeper getting a touch.
Captain Kevin Fitzgerald had one cleared off the line while Cory McManus produced a wonderful save at the feet of Leonard, with Cork also seeing a goal disallowed for offside before the break.
But the hosts levelled it on the hour-mark with a low strike from James Fitzgerald. And, after Fletcher agonisingly missed a chance to restore Limerick’s lead, Cork won it late on when they forced the ball home despite McManus and the post denying the first two efforts.
Limerick manager Dave Dineen made four changes to the team that recorded their first win of the season in Wexford last weekend, with all bar one of those enforced.
McManus replaced Matthew Dawson-Furey in goals while Karl O’Sullivan, Aaron Fitzgerald and Brandon Murphy took the places of the absent Ben Quirke (suspended), Lee Wall and Patrick McDonagh (both injured).
And the young Superblues enjoyed a dream start when Cotter’s work provided the opening for Fletcher and his strike was powerful enough to beat Ian Giltinan despite the home No1 getting a strong hand to it.
Soon, Cork had their first effort on goal but McManus was equal to Gordon Walker’s header.
Midway through the half, Limerick went close to doubling their advantage when Jesse Stafford-Lacey’s free-kick to the back was met by Fitzgerald’s head but Cork cleared off the line. And moments later, Stafford-Lacey flashed a header wide from Ger Barry’s corner.
On 25 minutes, McManus – who had an eye-catching day between the sticks – was brave and brilliant in getting down to deny Leonard close to goal.
Past the half-hour, Limerick threatened again when Stafford-Lacey’s dangerous right-wing cross beat Giltinan, but in going for it the ‘keeper put off the arriving Fletcher who would have made it 2-0 with a clean connection.
Cork – who lost Giltinan to injury shortly after, replaced by Conor Hogan – put plenty of pressure on the visitors towards the end of the first half, but the best they had to show for it was a disallowed goal in the dying seconds.
But after a quiet opening to the second half, Cork levelled on the hour when Fitzgerald broke into the box and finished to the bottom corner. Then, they could have hit the front but captain Thomas O’Donovan’s header from Fitzgerald’s corner went narrowly wide.
On 74 minutes, Limerick should have retaken the lead when a ball over the top was well pressed by Brandon Murphy, with the ball falling into the path of Fletcher but he dinked it over the ‘keeper and inches past the post.
With ten minutes left, Barry’s long-range free-kick whistled just wide. But then Cork went and scored, with McManus denying Cian Murphy with a top save but after Leonard’s initial rebound came back off the post he followed up to head in the winner.
In the final minute, Fletcher went down in the box, but the linesman adjudged him to have dived, while Cork had a chance to make the game safe but a poor touch by Alec Byrne allowed McManus to gather.
Cork City: Ian Giltinan, Dylan Scott, John Browne, Thomas O’Donovan ©, Mark Brosnan, Ronan Hennessy, Gordon Walker, Alec Byrne, James Fitzgerald, Cian Murphy, Cian Leonard. Goals: J Fitzgerald (60), C Leonard (85). Subs: Conor Hogan (GK), James McSweeney, Eoin Davis, Ronan Hurley, Brian Mulcahy, Pete Calnan, Ruben Henry.
Limerick: Cory McManus, Karl O’Sullivan, Jack Lynch, Kevin Fitzgerald ©, Seán Madigan, Brandon Murphy, Ger Barry, Aaron Fitzgerald, Shane Fletcher, Jesse Stafford-Lacey (Dave Sweeney 63), Barry Cotter. Goal: S Fletcher (4). Unused Sub: Matthew Dawson-Furey (GK).
Referee: Ricky Crean (Cork).
Report Date: Saturday 5 September 2015