The top of the table clash last Friday between Cork City and Dundalk could go a long way to deciding who wins the title at the end of October. Dundalk ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a late goal from Brian Gartland that broke Cork City hearts.
1) Cork City tactics
Cork were overly reliant on the long ball up front to Mark O’ Sullivan who won the majority of possession but everybody was too far behind him to do anything and this played into the hands of Brian Gartland and Andy Boyle who were able to deal with all the flick ons. The tactic worked well at the start of the year when people didn’t know about O’ Sullivan but everybody has kind of figured out his strengths and as a result Stephen Kenny came with a plan to stop it and it worked out well.
For the last 20 minutes Cork City switched from a 4-2-3-1 tactic to a more attacking 4-3-3 which reaped dividends as it provided an attacking platform for them which allowed them to get an equaliser. The increased forward presence meant that Dundalk had to put more defenders back and this allowed Cork City come more into the game up until Dundalk got the equaliser.
2) Net controversy
It was one of the first times at a football match that a net had to be retied despite passing the pre-match inspection. This caused a delay to the start of the game and surely left Setanta Sports sweating as to their TV schedule that night. There is also a hilarious vine floating about twitter of the Cork City kit man Mick Ring walking into the post after doing the running repairs.
3) Midfield battle
Both sides have probably the two best midfielders in the league with Richie Towell and Gearóid Morrissey. Cork City had the majority of possession for the game but the midfield lacked the killer instinct while Dundalk didn’t get as many chances but caused City more difficulty.
Dundalk’s Richie Towell got a goal to give them a lead in the first half and nearly added another one on the cusp of half time when his volley just went wide. While Cork City’s midfield were restricted to long range shots for the majority of the game and failed to test Peter Cherrie.
Cork City on the hand failed on numerous occasions to get any decent ball into the box with many crosses over hit or falling into the hands of Peter Cherrie. Dundalk was more direct in their running unlike Cork City with Daryl Horgan causing the City defence trouble. It was his attempted through ball after a run down the middle of the pitch that lead to Dundalk’s opening goal.
4) Referee’s performance
While I know it is a thankless job being a referee and I wouldn’t want to be one if asked but some of the decisions were dubious. In the opening 27 minutes referee Padraig Sutton gave out several yellow cards to both teams yet the physio from either side wasn’t required to treat any players who were victims of these fouls. Yet the same type of fouls were done in the second half but no yellow cards were handed out in the second half for similar tackles which shows a lack of consistency from the referee. It would be interesting to view the assessors’ card to see what they have to say about the performance.
Stephen Walsh, Pundit Arena.