Friday, June 03, 2016

Cork City FC

Cork City 1 Dundalk 0 - League of Ireland, Premier Division

Cork is a city in Ireland, located in the South-West Region, in the province of Munster. It is the second largest city in the state. The city is built on the River Lee, which splits into two channels at the western end of the city; the city centre is divided by these channels. They converge at the eastern end where the quays and docks along the riverbanks lead outwards towards Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, one of the world's largest natural harbours. The city's charter was granted by Prince John, as Lord of Ireland, in 1185. The city was once fully walled, and some wall sections and gates remain today. Since the nineteenth century, Cork had been a strongly Irish nationalist city, with widespread support for Irish Home Rule and the Irish Parliamentary Party, but from 1910 stood firmly behind William O'Brien's dissident All-for-Ireland Party. O'Brien published a third local newspaper, the Cork Free Press. In the War of Independence, the centre of Cork was burnt down by the British Black and Tans and the city saw fierce fighting between Irish guerrillas and UK forces. During the Irish Civil War, Cork was for a time held by anti-Treaty forces, until it was retaken by the pro-Treaty National Army in an attack from the sea.

The current Cork City Football Club are not the first to use the name Cork City. During the 1920s teams referred to as Cork City competed in both the Munster Senior League and the Munster Senior Cup. A team named Cork City finished as Munster Senior Cup runners up in 1924–25. Another Cork City FC also played in the League of Ireland between 1938 and 1940. Following the bankruptcy of Cork United in 1982, senior football returned to the city with the formation of a new Cork City FC in 1984. Founded by officials from several Cork clubs (including Cork United and Avondale United), the new club was elected to the League of Ireland. The club play home games at Turner's Cross.

This was not my first experience of Cork as I had visited the city in 1989 to watch Tottenham Hotspur play a friendly match at Musgrave Park (a rugby ground) I remember on that occasion having a look inside Turner's Cross when I passed by on the way to the match. I don't recall too much detail from that occasion but clearly a lot of work has taken place on the ground in the interim period.

The stadium is now an all seated venue with a capacity of 7,485. I had arrived in Cork early on the morning of the match and took the opportunity to visit the stadium at lunchtime. I was able to gain access and take some photographs. The ground staff were busy preparing the pitch for the match and it was in superb condition. Three days beforehand the Republic of Ireland had hosted Belarus in a warm up match to the forthcoming European Championships at Turner's Cross but the playing surface showed no sign of this.

Before the match, this Pieman enjoyed the hospitality in a couple of the local bars and the Cork brewed Beamish was in fine form. The match had been selected for live TV screening and pitted current champions Dundalk (top of the league) against second placed Cork City with the gap being four points. Accordingly, an interesting match was anticipated and the local interest was such that a highest crowd of the season was not in doubt.

The match was a fine advertisement for Irish league football and although only my third experience of this league, was easily the best that I had witnessed. The large crowd was treated to an intense contest as both sides were committed to an absorbing game. The goal that settled the match was scored by Stephen Dooley. The same player also managed to blaze a penalty over the bar in the second half. Despite trailing for much of the match and being reduced to ten men when Chris Shield received a red card, Dundalk still posed a threat and it was only on hearing the final whistle that Cork City could relax.

The match ticket enabled entry to all areas of the ground and an early decision to sit at the back of the main stand paid dividends in avoiding the June sunshine. Spectators elsewhere had to shield their eyes. Turner's Cross is probably around a fifteen minute walk from the City Centre, but is also served by buses and there is also an hourly direct service to the airport (last bus 22:12).

Attendance: 5453
Admission: €15
Programme:  €4 (60 pages)

Click here for a full set of photographs

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