Cork City have come a long way since Davin O'Neill's goal in Derry

Cork City have come a long way since Davin O'Neill's goal in Derry
Cork City's Greg O'Halloran, Stephen O'Donnell and Davin O'Neill training in Blarney in 2010. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

AS the decade ends, it is fair to suggest that Cork City FC have come a mighty long way in the space of 10 years.

To go from essentially starting from scratch in the First Division, to achieving promotion in the most sweetest of ways possible thanks to a Graham Cummins header in the 94th minute, to success at the top of the Premier Division.

It is hard to believe it is now coming up to a decade ago now since Cork City played their first ever game as a fans owned club under FORAS, who saved the club from extinction.

From there the club re-emerged at the top level of Irish football under Tommy Dunne and then of course John Caulfield.

This reporter made the trip up on a supporters bus to the Brandywell as a young 16-year-old Transition Year student.

On that same bus were the likes of John O’Sullivan and Jonathan O’Brien, who had a hectic spell beforehand as City, under FORAS, were granted a First Division licence a few days before the season was due to start.

Given the events which had transpired over the months previous, it was just a relief to be able to watch City go into battle on the pitch rather than keep an eye on events in a courtroom.

“Tommy Dunne has put a squad together on a few days’ notice. What is important is that we have a football team to support this season and that is what it is all about,” said then FORAS chairman O’Sullivan at the time.

Davin O’Neill’s goal for Cork will stay in the memory of the City supporters present that night.

Davin O'Neill celebrates in front of the Cork supporters. Picture: INPHO/Donall Farmer
Davin O'Neill celebrates in front of the Cork supporters. Picture: INPHO/Donall Farmer

It was a quality finish and one which will forever be recognised in the history books.

Mark McNulty was in goals for the game, while others to feature included Ian Turner, Greg O’Halloran, Graham Cummins and Paul Deasy, now working as the club’s Commercial and Marketing manager.

Derry City, who also were starting afresh after being demoted to the First Division for contract irregularities, had the now Republic Of Ireland boss in waiting Stephen Kenny as their manager that night at the Brandywell.

Among those that were playing for Derry that night included a certain future Irish international in James McClean.

The game finished in a draw in the end, but the big result really was for Cork fans was just to have a team to support.

To come from that night, where Cork had only 13 registered first team players who travelled, to challenging for and winning FAI Cups and the Premier Division title in 2017, is something which should not be underestimated.

As Shelbourne fans can attest to, the 1st Division can be harder to get out of then some people may think.

Cork City under FORAS came a long way in a few short years, from that night in the Brandywell In 2010 to playing a part in one of the great modern League Of Ireland rivalries with Dundalk.

Former City player Neal Horgan’s latest book The Cross Roads, provides a great account of the events and the journey which Cork City FC have been on this decade.

Who knows that the 2020s will offer. But in light of the recent news about Limerick, it should put the season in 2019 City had into perspective.

Those who care about Cork City FC the most, the supporters, are the ones making the big decisions about the club.

Enthusiastic people like Declan Carey and other board members like Conor Hallahan and Dave Alton strike you as individuals who are willing to put the effort in for the love of their football club.

Some people, somewhat unfairly so, were quick to put the boot in and question were fans of qualified enough to run a football club. That does seem somewhat ridiculous really.

FORAS put the groundwork in which turned out to be a platform for success with FAI Cups and the Premier Division title.

Now is the time for all Cork City fans to rally together and get behind Neale Fenn and the squad.

Hopefully next year will see the foundations being put in place for more days of success to come over the years ahead.

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