Shamrock Rovers 0 Cork City 0: Hoops held in pursuit of European football as Leesiders give up league title to Dundalk
The Hoops could not get the breakthrough against John Caulfield’s side as the race for Europa League football heats up
RONAN FINN had a header cleared off the line — but that was about as good as it got for Shamrock Rovers last night in their pursuit of European football.
Aaron Barry came to Cork’s rescue on 38 minutes after Dan Carr had headed Ethan Boyle’s deep cross into Finn’s path.
But this draw was still a bigger disappointment for Rovers than it was for Cork, who were finally dethroned as champions by Dundalk.
It was two points lost for Stephen Bradley’s men as Waterford moved level on points with the Hoops in the two-way tussle for a Europa League spot.
The Hoops had the better of a game largely played in the Leesiders half but they failed to make the most of the few chances that came their way.
For Cork, last night’s game was purely a distraction ahead of Monday’s crucial FAI Cup semi-final replay date with Bohemians.
That boss John Caulfield rested NINE of his first-choice players and did not even name his full quota of substitutes highlighted how the Tallaght visit was a game he could have done without.
But what a match there is in store when Waterford visit Tallaght in two weeks. As things stand, that game could yet determine which side goes into the Europa League. Of course, by then, it could be academic too.
Cork may have frustrated Rovers last night but a win over Bohs at Turner’s Cross on Monday would guarantee that the top four, rather than the top three, all get into Europe. Both the Hoops and Blues are already guaranteed a top-four finish.
But Rovers would rather have moved a step closer on their own merits in a game they controlled for quite long periods.
All the action was aimed at the Cork goal.
Yet, for all the home side’s control, the visitors were rarely troubled. There were early shots blocked but the best opportunity was when City keeper Peter Cherrie dropped a cross and it rebounded towards goal off Ronan Hurley.
The second period saw further chances with Aaron Greene going on a fine solo run, only for Cherrie to deny him one-on-one, while Greg Bolger flashed a shot wide.
Late on, as the home fans got nervous, Finn shot over from close range after being picked out by Aaron Greene and Seán Kavanagh had a shot tipped over by Cherrie at the death.
But the goal did not come leaving the Hoops relieved that City had not taken their few chances.
Their best chance on the hour mark was courtesy of a Rovers defensive lapse when Barry McNamee caught Roberto Lopes in possession, only for the Hoops defender to get back and clear.
Ronan Coughlan also had a late chance as the visitors finished far brighter than they had started.
But their season is now all about beating Bohs in the FAI Cup on Monday.
Given it would guarantee Europe for Rovers too, it is something the Hoops will also be hoping they achieve.
SUN STAR MAN
Aaron Barry (Cork City)
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus 6; Boyle 6, Lopes 6, Grace 6, S Kavanagh 7; Bolger 6, Watts 7 (Bone 86, 6); Coustrain 6 (Miele 72, 6), Finn 7, Carr 6 (B Kavanagh 81, 6); Greene 6.
CORK CITY: Cherrie 7; Phillips 6, Delaney 6, Barry 7, Hurley 7; McCormack 6, McNamee 6; Daly-Butz 5 (McCarthy h-t, 6), Sadlier 5 (Morrissey h-t, 6), Murphy 6; Coughlan 5 (Cummins 79, 6).
REFEREE: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan) 6.