Soccer nostalgia: From 1994 to 2005, Cork City experienced highs and lows

Soccer nostalgia: From 1994 to 2005, Cork City experienced highs and lows
Cork City's Pat Morley celebrates his first home goal against St Patrick's Athletic at Turner's Cross in January 1999. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Cork sports historian Plunket Carter charts the annual Soccer Writers Awards and monthly prizes from their origin in the 1960/1961 season through to the modern era. 

In the fourth part, he reflects on 1994 through to 2005 with all the highs and lows those entailed for Cork City...

Anthony Buckley.
Anthony Buckley.

SHAMROCK Rovers manager Ray Treacy came up with a master-stroke when he lured the retired Stephen Geoghegan back to the League of Ireland from junior soccer and he fired home 23 goals in 1994 as the Hoops reclaimed the title.

Geoghegan who went on to net 153 League goals before eventually hanging up his boots was named POY ahead of some unlucky Sligo men who completed FAI Cup, Div 1 Championship and League Cup treble.

Anthony Buckley, Cork City, got off to a flying start and was the September nominee.

There was a gripping three-way finish to the title race the following year with Derry, Shels, and Dundalk all in contention on the final day.

Shels and Derry amazingly slipped up at the final hurdle to gift the trophy to the Lilywhites.

Derry had the consolation of winning the FAI and their 'born striker' Liam Coyle was named POY.

John Caulfield who had another terrific season was honoured for the third time in November.

In 1996 the SWAI made the perfect choice by naming Brian Kerr as their Personality. Without him Pat’s would not have survived the dark financial days of the early nineties.

He built a new side and in 1996 they won the championship with five points to spare ahead of Bohs who finished runners-up again in 1997, but this time the gap was wider as the entertaining Derry romped home with 10 points in hand.

Gary Beckett, Paul Curran, and Peter Hutton were all strong contenders for the Personality gong, but it was the latter’s 15 goals from midfield which swung it in his favour.

Patsy Freyne was the star in November while Pat Morley, then with Shels, was on fire in January. 

Patsy Freyne.
Patsy Freyne.

When Brian Kerr took charge of Ireland’s Youths in 1998, Pat Dolan transferred from the boardroom in Inchicore to replace him in the hot seat.

Draw:

In his first full season at the helm the former U21 international guided Pats to their third title of the decade. St Pats needed Shels, who only required a draw, to slip up at Oriel while they had to win in Kilkenny.

Dolan’s team, as expected, did the business and to their delight Shels were beaten by Dundalk.

Few would then begrudge Dolan the gong. Unlucky Shels endured further misery when defeated in the FAI Cup final replay by Cork City thanks to Derek Coughlan’s header.

The Leesiders winger Ollie Cahill got a nice Christmas present when handed the December award.

Ollie Cahill.
Ollie Cahill.

The sunset on the decade as it had risen with St Pat’s as League

Champions. Paul Osam was the key figure in Kerr’s St Pat’s title-winning side in 1990 and his brilliant displays throughout the ’99 season earned him the personality award.

St Patrick's were managed by Liam Buckley as Pat Dolan became the club’s chief executive. Dermot Keely an FAI Cup and League winner as player and manager struck again as the new millennium was entered when he guided Shelbourne to another double which assured him of the personality award.

Cork City’s Pat Morley’s consistency in front of goal was reflected in the October award as the striker went on to finish the season with 20 goals.

Cork City's Pat Morley with Donal Leahy in 1999.
Cork City's Pat Morley with Donal Leahy in 1999.

Glen Crowe’s club record of 35 goals (all competitions) for champions Bohs in 2001 made it impossible for him to be overlooked as the Personality of the Year.

Incidentally, there was no March award due to the outbreak of foot and mouth.

Shelbourne were on course to retain their title until football was put on hold after which they lost their momentum allowing Bohs, with the help of some excellent signings, to steal the crown.

St Pat’s were easily the best team in 2002, winning the most points 15 of which were deducted for playing two ineligible players allowing Shels to claim a hollow title victory.

There was justice in the writers' decision to name Pat’s manager Paul Doolin as their Personality of the Year. Ollie Cahill picked up his second monthly award in November while his former colleague Billy Woods (Shamrock Rovers) was chosen in January.

In 2002/03 Bohs added another league title and Glen Crowe regained his personality crown.

Domestic football switched from winter to summer season and Cork City signings John O’Flynn and George O’Callaghan had fun in the sun and garnered the July and August gongs.

The season was played out over 27 games between July and January. Alan Matthews was honoured in 2003 for his achievement of guiding Longford to their first major trophy in their 79-year history defeating St Pat’s in the FAI Cup final.

John O’Flynn, as he had done the previous season, collected the first monthly award.

John O'Flynn.
John O'Flynn.

2004 will be remembered not so much for the domestic fare but for the gallant performances of Irish clubs in Europe.

Cork City knocked out former European Cup finalists Malmo in the Inter-Toto Cup and Nijmegen before succumbing to Nantes.

Shels were magnificent beating Hadjuk Split and drawing with Deportivo Coruna in the Champions League.

Shels won the league so not surprisingly manager Pat Fenlon won the Personality of the Year Award. League runners-up Cork City had three of the monthly award recipients George O’Callaghan, Liam Kearney, and Roy O’Donovan.

For the first time in 14 years the top two sides in the country, Cork City and Derry, went head-to-head in a winner-takes-all clash on the last day of an exciting 2005 season at Turner’s Cross.

If Derry avoided defeat the title was theirs. Cork had to win. When Liam Kearney added to John O’Flynn’s first-half lead goal it became clear that Damian Richardson’s wait for a league title as manager was over.

George O'Callghan.
George O'Callghan.

He was further rewarded with the Personality award and players Kearney, O’Callaghan and O’Donovan collected monthly prizes while Michael Devine was named top goalkeeper.

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