Cork City took an almighty step closer to winning the Premier Division on Friday night, beating Dundalk 3-0 at Oriel Park to move 18 points clear at the top of the table.
Goals from in-form City striker Sean Maguire proved to be the difference as John Caulfield’s men extended their fantastic recent record against the defending champions, making it four wins in a row against the Lilywhites in all competitions.
Although Dundalk will argue that they made the better start, the mood around Oriel Park changed almost instantly when Maguire tapped home at the end of a Karl Sheppard. The former Dundalk striker doubled City’s lead in the second half as he headed home a cross from John Dunleavy, under the watchful eye of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane.
An error from Dane Massey allowed the 23-year-old to complete his hat-trick in stoppage time, capping the perfect evening for the striker and his side.
City get the win and, more pertinently, now have a ridiculously commanding lead over their closest rivals as we move into the brief midseason break. So while we still have another entire half-season to play through, is that it now already for the title race?
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) June 2, 2017
— Declan Carey (@DeclanCarey) June 2, 2017
— Graham Woods (@Woodsy_9) June 2, 2017
— Paul Hosford (@PTHosford) June 2, 2017
— gavexile (@gavexile) June 2, 2017
— Paudie O’Neill (@oneillpaudie) June 2, 2017
Feels like a momentous win for Cork City that.
Dundalk offered very little to the game. Out fought, out thought.#LOI
— Irish Football Tips (@LOItips) June 2, 2017
So impressed with Cork C tonight. Obviously they’ve a fantastic individual in Maguire but as a unit & team they superb. All play their part!
— Alan Cawley (@alancaw) June 2, 2017
There was, understandably, special praise for the hat-trick hero of the night. Sean Maguire has been one of the ksy driving forces behind City’s title charge, and reminded Dundalk yet again of what they lost when they let him go in 2015:
Letting Seanie Maguire leave is the worst error of judgement we’ve made in Dundalk since the Ice Dome was built.
— Ronan Mullen (@RonanReigns) June 2, 2017
You’re defence is terrified does it again. Dundalk 0 City 2. Maguire wearing green tonight. Green for Ireland next? pic.twitter.com/SNu8I3NGKJ
— Trevor Welch (@TWelchTV3) June 2, 2017
— League Of Ireland (@league_ireland) June 2, 2017
Maguire Hatrick, Jesus this gets even better!!!!!
— Cork’s RedFM Sport (@BigRedBench) June 2, 2017
Sean Maguire was different class tonight?
— Darren Gilligan (@dazzlerg6) June 2, 2017
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we take a look at a big ten days for Martin O’Neill’s side as well as the usual review of the latest League of Ireland action.