SO, there is no happy ending, no miracle like we had hoped.
Unfortunately, Cork City, one of Ireland’s biggest clubs will be playing First Division football next season after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Sligo Rovers coinciding with Finn Harps' surprising victory away to Bohemians.
The result and performance in Sligo summed up Cork City’s season.
It started with promise before reality set in. City then gave us hope before ultimately ending with disappointment. On paper, this was a winnable game. Sligo had lost five of their last six games and seemed to have switched their attentions to their FAI Cup quarter-final against Derry City.
With it being a must-win game, Colin Healy switched to a back three and two forwards, Kit Elliot and Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh, as well as making sure City were able to keep three in midfield to avoid being out numbered.
City started like a team fighting to stay in the division. They weren’t giving Sligo a moment on the ball.
They should have taken the lead but Elliot was unsuccessful from the spot. The striker slipped and I would question the boots he was wearing.
Liam Bossin was caught in no-man’s-land for Sligo’s first goal but shouldn’t take all of the blame. Questions must be asked of Henry Ochieng, who did not read the flight of the ball. Of course, Ochieng isn’t a natural right-back.
That goal seemed to drain the confidence from City. When things haven’t been going your way it's disheartening going a goal behind, especially when it was a goal that was easily avoidable. There was no one but Bossin to blame for Sligo’s second goal. He flapped at the corner and rather than stay calm clumsily gave away a penalty.
City’s lack of a quality striker has been one of their downfalls. To have any success, teams need a clinical striker, who can also hold the ball and bring others into the game.
Ronan Coughlan is a player that can do all of this. The striker is a player City fans would love to see still at the Cross.
The forward’s reputation has vastly enhanced since his departure from City two years ago and many see Coughlan as the best striker in the league. The 24-year-old was surplus to requirements at City because he was seen as ‘lightweight’ but releasing Coughlan is just another in a long list of mistakes City have made.
Coughlan wouldn’t have been one of the high earners. He was a player that City could have afforded to gamble on and wait to see how he developed.
Garry Buckley looks like a different player to the one that departed City at the end of last season. It went stale for Buckley and he needed a new challenge. The former City player is an excellent reader of the game and he looked very comfortable in defence. He didn’t try and over-complicate things by playing 40-yard cross-field passes, he kept the game simple.
City have shown signs of improvement under Healy and his appointment has been one positive from a bleak season.
He has to be applauded for his awareness to make changes to a game. Against Waterford last week, his substitutes made a real impact and again against Sligo the substitutes made a difference.
City looked out of ideas until the introduction of Dylan McGlade. The former Longford man can be equally as frustrating as he is brilliant but did manage to get his name on the scoresheet, unfortunately, it didn’t affect the outcome.
City now have to look to the future and rebuild for life in the First Division.