Match Report by James Donnelly
The largest crowd of the season gathered at the City Calling Stadium on Friday night to witness Premier Division side Cork City take on Neale Fenn's First Division Longford Town. Current Cup holders Cork City steamrolled into the City Calling Stadium and progressed to the semi finals of the FAI Cup after a controlled, professional performance against the Red and Black.
Cork looked to assert their dominance early on, Karl Sheppard showing intent when he went close after cutting inside from the right wing but his shot was expertly saved by Michael Kelly in the Longford goal.
The visitors didn't take long in opening their account. Their first goal coming from their Captain on the night - Gearoid Morrissey on 20 minutes. A City corner wasn't dealt with by Longford and Morrissey somehow, with his back to the goal, managed to flick it over his head and into the corner for a skillful finish.
Dylan McGlade, who had a quiet game for De Town, had a chance only a minute later when he cut inside on his favoured right foot but dragged his shot wide of Peter Cherrie's goal.
Karl Sheppard showed his class for Cork's second goal only 3 minutes after their first when he brilliantly rounded Karl Chambers twice before swinging in a cross that was met by a powerful header from Kieran Sadlier at close range that left Michael Kelly no chance.
McGlade went close again, this time picking up a loose cross, he cut inside the box before his zapping shot was deflected narrowly over the bar and out for a corner.
Longford supporters would have felt they could still be in with a fighting chance going in 2-0 down at half time but the game changing moment came on 40 minutes when referee Ray Matthews deemed Darren Meenan to have dangerously fouled a Cork man and gave the Dubliner a straight red. It was an uphill battle from then on for Longford after what seemed like a harsh sending off from the multiple angles the RTE cameras captured of the incident.
Jamie Doyle had a chance to grab a goal back for Longford just before half time. After doing well to hold the ball up from a Town clearance, he turned his man and managed to get a shot off but it was straight into the hands of Cherrie.
John Caulfield's men started the second half as they did the first, pushing forward on Longford every time they got on the ball. The extra man didn't help things for De Town and they conceded a third goal on 54 minutes when Ronan Coughlan pounced on a loose ball in the box to easily slot it home after some great work down the wing by Sheppard.
Cork got their fourth goal 15 minutes later when Sadlier swung a cross field ball to Griffin and his cross was met by Sadlier at the far post. A great move between the two players with the Leesider's showing no mercy.
Former Longford Town man Josh O'Hanlon got Cork's fifth goal after an assist from Sadlier from the left side and O'Hanlon made no mistake blasting it home with the left foot.
The goal of the game came from Sadlier on 88 minutes when he sealed his hatrick. Cutting inside from 30 yards out, he unleashed a rocket of a shot that went straight into the net past the outstretched hands of Kelly in goal. A goal that was appreciated even by the dissapointed Town supporters.
Cork wrapped things up in stoppage time when a counter attack saw a 4 on 2 move end with Barry McNamee scoring their seventh and final goal of the game.
A tough game and disappointing result for Neale Fenn and his team but there were some positives to take. The likes of Tumelo Tlou and Eoin O'Neill coming on showed the progress of Longford's youth system. Young players like Aodh Dervin and Karl Chambers, both of whom worked their socks off, will gain valuable experience from playing opposition of such a high level. The main aim of this season was promotion and Longford are very much still in with a chance of doing that and that was always going to be in the back of the mind of the players and managment alike. The big game is against Drogheda at United Park next week.
Longford Town: Michael Kelly, Shane Elworthy, Michael McDonnell, Tristan Noack-Hofmann, Karl Chambers, Peter Hopkins, Dean Zambra (c), Aodh Dervin, Darren Meenan, Dylan McGlade, Jamie Doyle.
Subs: Ben Kelly, Tumelo Tlou (replaced Peter Hopkins), Eoin O'Neill, (replaced Dylan McGlade), Dean Dillon (replaced Jamie Doyle), Jackson Ryan, Evan O'Connor
Cork City: Peter Cherrie, Aaron Barry, Alan Bennett, Shane Griffin, Steven Beattie, Garry Buckley, Jimmy Keohane, Gearoid Morrissey, Kieran Sadlier, Ronan Coughlan, Karl Sheppard.
Subs: Graham Cummins, Shane Daly-Butz (replaced Karl Sheppard)., Conor McCormack, Sean McLoughlin, Barry McNamee (replaced Alan Bennett), Mark McNulty, Josh O'Hanlon (replaced Gerard Morrissey).