Cork City open First Division campaign with derby against Cobh Ramblers on March 26

Campaign has been mapped out with 10 teams, though only nine are currently listed
Cork City open First Division campaign with derby against Cobh Ramblers on March 26

Alan Bennett, Cork City FC, puts pressure Paul Hunt, Cobh Ramblers goalkeeper, during a corner kick. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THERE will be a Cork derby to open the 2021 SSE Airtricity League First Division season as Cork City host Cobh Ramblers at Turner’s Cross on Friday, March 26 (7.45pm).

For the first time since 2008, the two Cork clubs are in the same division and their clash will mark the beginning of the campaign at the end of next month.

In the official fixture list circulated by the FAI on Monday afternoon, there are five fixtures in each round, with City, Ramblers, Athlone Town, Bray Wanderers, Cabinteely, Galway United, Shelbourne, UCD and Wexford joined by a team marked ‘TBC’ – this is believed to be Treaty United of Limerick, who are hopeful of being awarded a licence later this month. Shamrock Rovers II are not included, while another licence applicant, Dublin County, is not expected to be successful.

Each side in the ten-team division will play each other three times and Stuart Ashton’s Ramblers will welcome Colin Healy’s City to St Colman’s Park in Cobh on Saturday, May 29 at 7pm. 

The clubs will then start the third set of fixtures with another meeting at the Cross on Friday, August 13 at 7.45pm.

Thirteen years ago, newly promoted Ramblers and City met three times in the Premier Division, drawing 0-0 at St Colman’s in March 2008 before City triumphed 5-0 at the Cross in May. The third clash, back in Cobh, finished 1-1.

Ramblers were relegated at the end of that season but, while City were demoted a year later, having failed to be awarded a Premier Division licence, Cobh were not a part of the league during the Rebel Army’s two-year tenure in the First Division.

The winners of the First Division will be automatically promoted as the bottom side in the Premier Division are relegated. The sides finished second, third, fourth and fifth will then enter a play-off series, with the winners of that taking on the top flight’s ninth-placed team for a spot in the 2022 Premier Division.

Goalmouth action at Turner's Cross as Cork City took on Cobh Ramblers in the FAI Cup on February 5, 1987. 
Goalmouth action at Turner's Cross as Cork City took on Cobh Ramblers in the FAI Cup on February 5, 1987. 

Along with the two Cork sides, another club hoping to be in the promotion mix is John Caulfield’s Galway United, who have recent signed former City captain Conor McCormack and have Lisa Fallon as head coach. The Tribesmen visit Cobh on May 1 and Turner’s Cross on May 21, with Cobh going west on July 9 and City in Eamonn Deacy Park on August 6.

Cobh will host Galway again on Saturday, October 2 while the final night of the season, Friday, October 29 will see Caulfield’s men visit Turner’s Cross for what could be a pivotal clash.

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