IT had to be him didn’t it?
After a week from hell, mostly of his own making, Mark McNulty today stands tall as a proud Corkman.
His save from Michael Duffy in front of the Dundalk fans, who gave him torrid abuse all afternoon - followed by Kieran Sadlier’s excellent winning spotter - ensured the first double in the history of Cork City FC.
Bad memories of December 2005 and that horrible, surprise 2-0 loss to Drogheda which prevented City from doing the double then can now be wiped away. New heroes came to the fore in the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
While Sadlier and McNulty will grab most of the headlines, this dramatic win was one for the team, the squad, and the management to share in evenly. It was a day for players, other than the usual heroes to shine and grab their moment in the spotlight.
Sub Greg Bolger, who upped the tempo when he came in as a sub for Morrissey in extra time, made a huge difference, and his penalty, Cork’s second of the shootout was class. Kieran Sadlier started poorly but he found his true form in extra time and that helped Cork find their way back into this final.
Achille Campion, who has had a tough year, was another hero. He led the line very well when introduced, and took his goal with a very accomplished finish when it looked as if Dundalk would win one nil, thanks to a super header from centre back Niclas Vemmelund in his final game for the club.
He has made it known he wants to return home to Denmark, but John Caulfield should make contact with him (not while he is on the bus) and try to persuade him to come to Cork.
Campion’s finish was one that we had not seen from him before and hopefully now after securing his name in Cork City history, he can kick on next season and play a bigger part in the defence of both titles. This victory, historic as it was, came against the run of play. Dundalk looked likely winners from a long way out.
Cork started the better, but once Dundalk settled into the game midway through the first half, they were the better team for the remainder of the game.But give Cork credit. They refused to lie down and while they were under the cosh for long spells, their ability to defend in numbers stood them in good stead.
This team has their manager’s determination to leave it all out on the pitch and John Caulfield could not have asked for more from any of his players, even if they had lost this final. While we prefer to see winning football played with style and grace, cup finals are all about one thing – winning.
And Cork have now developed that habit. That’s two years in a row they have captured the cup in dramatic fashion.
It was a great way to finish the year. League champions and now cup champions. Cork City and their fans know what they are.