DFC | Benson spoils the party as Dundalk FC come from behind to leave Cork waiting

SSE Airtricity League of Ireland | Cork City 1–1 Dundalk FC

Dundalk’s Robbie Benson tussles with Cork City’s Gearoid Morrissey

Robbie Benson’s 87th-minute equaliser silenced Turner’s Cross as Dundalk spoiled Cork City’s planned coronation in front of almost 7,000 people.

One-nil up through a Brian Gartland own goal, it looked like the Leesiders were on their way to being crowned champions of Ireland for the first time since 2005 as the game approached the final minutes.

Stephen Kenny’s side, however, had other ideas and Benson was on hand to steer the ball home, spoil the party and leave Cork waiting until October 13th for their next opportunity to close it out.

The side that John Caulfield selected to try and seal the deal contained three changes from the team that was beaten 2–1 in the Munster Derby against Limerick at the Market’s Field on Friday night.

Alan Bennett and Conor McCormack returned to the starting XI, as did Garry Buckley, the midfielder selected ahead of Kieran Sadlier who was feeling the effects of a hamstring injury.

Dundalk had to plan without the suspended Niclas Vemmelund at centre-back. Sean Hoare deputised while Patrick McEleney, Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney and Benson were all restored after sitting out the win over Drogheda three nights earlier.

The man charged with keeping an eye on things was Rob Rogers and the official was quick to get the yellow cards out, rightly for Gearóid Morrissey, who took Chris Shields out in the 11th minute, and wrongly for Sean Hoare, who was unfortunate to be booked after clearly winning a tackle on Keohane two minutes later.

At that stage, it was the visitors, looking for their 10th successive win, who had made the brighter start with Dylan Connolly looking lively on the flank and running at Shane Griffin at every opportunity.

Things eventually settled down and the Leesiders pulled ahead in the 21st minute, the result of a move that started with a bout of classy passing and ended in comical defending.

Stephen Dooley’s cross from the right fell kindly for Buckley at the back post. Gary Rogers parried his effort but when Sean Hoare tried to hack the loose ball clear, it hit Brian Gartland and flew into the net, sparking scenes of jubilation in the Shed End.

Dundalk were dealt another blow when Dane Massey limped off in the 28th minute, the left-back failing to recover from an injury sustained after making a crunching tackle on Steven Beattie earlier in the half.

He was replaced by Shane Grimes and when the game restarted, Rogers kept Dundalk in it by making a stunning save to tip a ferocious Buckley half-volley over the bar

With Dundalk ragged in possession, Cork continued to look the most likely and Keohane squandered a glorious opportunity to make it 2–0 in the 36th minute when he latched onto a Dooley pass only to blaze over under pressure from Gartland.

Unusually, Stephen Kenny’s side offered very little in the final third. Mark McNulty’s only real involvement came when he safely gathered a low Michael Duffy cross at his near post and City went in at the break with one hand on the trophy.

With McCormack highly influential, City continued to win the midfield battle in the second half, leaving Dundalk frustrated as the half wore on.

McNulty easily dealt with a Connolly effort in the 72nd minute, Dundalk’s first real shot of the evening, but the veteran goalkeeper was fortunate to see Michael Duffy slice a volley wide of the target two minutes later after he failed to clear a looping ball in his penalty area.

Cork continued to drop deep and they paid the price when Connolly’s cross deflected off the outstretched leg of Ryan Delaney and Benson, who wore the number 18, 27 and 36 shirt due to a bloody nose, was on hand to fire home the 45th league goal of his career and leave the champagne on ice.

CORK CITY: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Alan Bennett, Ryan Delaney, Shane Griffin; Gearoid Morrissey, Conor McCormack; Jimmy Keohane, Garry Buckley, Stephen Dooley; Karl Sheppard. Subs not used: Alan Smith (GK), Greg Bolger, Achille Campion, Kieran Sadlier, Connor Ellis, Conor McCarthy, Robbie Williams.

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey (Shane Grimes 28); Chris Shields (Stephen O’Donnell 67), Robbie Benson; Dylan Connolly, Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy (Jamie McGrath 85); David McMillan. Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (GK), John Mountney, Conor Clifford, Thomas Stewart.

REFEREE: Rob Rogers. ATTENDANCE: 6,983.

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