Bray Wanderers 4 (Marks 32, Connolly 35, Sullivan 83, Pender 88) Cork City 1 (Sheppard 85)
Premier Division, Carlisle Grounds, 28 Oct 2016
The Seagulls ended their season with a flourish, regaining the top half of the table and beating the visitors for the first time since May 2013. A cheeky pair of first half goals just after the half hour, by Jason Marks and Dylan Connolly, were asking for a vigorous response by Cork, which just didn’t happen.
Instead, the home side went on and breached the visitors’ defence twice more late in the second period, the only cloud on the landscape Karl Sheppard’s strike which came between John Sullivan’s and substitute Ger Pender’s scores. On that display, the Seagulls certainly deserved their lofty finish, none of the teams above them having beaten them in the final round of games.
And with the scalps of the Champions and the Runners-Up both on their belts, they can take a well-earned close season. Bray were forced to adjust their bench at the last minute when Alan Kehoe’s indisposition forced him out of the running. And in the early stages, it might have looked as if Cork were warming up for a pre-Cup Final celebration, with Mark O’Sullivan racing into the danger area until he went down – unnecessarily, according to referee Rob Hennessey, who cautioned the Cork midfielder.
Then Gearóid Morrissey squandered a chance barely eight minutes in, and Bray skipper Conor Kenna went uncharacteristically close to a self-inflicted goal. But midway through the half, Sullivan picked out Dean Kelly who passed neatly for a trademark Connolly run that ran out of space at the endline.
And only ten minutes later, Kevin Lynch got time to find Marks with a well-placed pass, and the Bray man had only to swivel and fire a curling shot from outside the area into Mark McNulty’s net to break his club duck. Lynch was again the provider when he found Connolly with a lofted forwarding of a Peter Cherrie clearance that gave the winger space to spot the Cork keeper out of place and allow him to lob with a dipping half-volley.
Only luck saved the visitors xenical from a half-time thrashing when first Dean Kelly pounced on a poor backpass by Kenny Browne and then Mark Salmon forced McNulty into another save. The Bray keeper was well-placed to parry when Danny Morrissey was through on his goal shortly after the resumption, but any expected Cork revival was at best slow to arrive.
Nobody was on hand to take advantage of a nice Cork free shortly after the hour, and with Bray looking content with their scoreline play was a little lacking in excitement for the 1200-odd fans in attendance.
But there were more thrills to come, and the final ten minutes saw not one but three further scores. The visitors’ defence didn’t spot the lurking Sullivan on the edge of the area, and Connolly fed him a gilt-edged invitation to strike, which he did with a low shot that beat McNulty at the near post.
It was Lynch who misjudged a ball intended for his keeper and allowed Karl Sheppard to net a consolation for the Leesiders two minutes later. But as if to underline the severity of the punishment they were receiving, Cork had to watch McNulty recover the ball after Pender beat no fewer than three tackles to curl a final goal into the Cork net.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 24 Sean Harding, 4 Conor Kenna (c), 21 Tim Clancy (yc), 19 Kevin Lynch; 3 John Sullivan; 16 Dylan Connolly, 10 Karl Moore, 8 Mark Salmon (yc), 11 Jason Marks; 9 Dean Kelly Subs: 5 Alan McNally (for Clancy 76), 17 Gerard Pender (for Kelly 66), 20 Paul Finnegan, 22 Darragh Noone (for Marks 83), 23 Gareth McDonagh, 27 Chris Lyons, 40 Lee Stacey (gk)
Cork City: 25 Mark McNulty (c); 18 Michael McSweeney, 15 David Mulcahy, 22 Kenny Browne, 2 John Kavanagh; 19 Karl Sheppard, 7 Colin Healy, 16 Gearóid Morrissey, 20 Chiedozie Ogbene; 8 Gavan Holohan; 23 Mark O’Sullivan (yc) Subs: 6 Gregory Bolger, 9 Daniel Morrissey (for O’Sullivan 19), 10 Steven Beattie, 24 Sean Maguire, 27 Ian Turner (for Browne 76), 29 Cian Coleman (for G Morrissey 60), 40 Matthew Connor (gk) Referee: Robert Hennessey
Compiled by Mícheál Ó hUanacháin