THIS game brings an end to Cork City’s 2021 League of Ireland campaign.
Like every season, there have been highs, most notably the victory away to Sligo Rovers in the FAI Cup, but there have been more lows for the club this campaign.
Although City were never really considered to be one of the main contenders for promotion before a ball was kicked this season, I feel a lot of people believe that Colin Healy’s men would have been there or thereabouts come the end of the campaign because they are ‘Cork City’.
City are in my opinion; the biggest club in the country. Just look at the support the team gets, no matter what competition they are competing in, compared to anyone else.
City’s inability to attract players good enough to get them out of the division because of budget restrictions is of course a legitimate excuse for them not to have challenged Shelbourne for the title, but I did think because it was ‘Cork City’ that they would make the playoffs.
Most of the players are Cork natives and they will be proud putting on the Rebel Army jersey. Wearing that green jersey will make players play above their normal levels.
I don’t think anyone that has watched City throughout the season can argue that the players don’t give everything. Yes, there have been the odd few games – like UCD in City’s last outing – where players look tired and have gone through the motions, but on a whole; these City players have given everything but unfortunately, they have lacked the quality needed to earn promotion.
This might be the last time we see a lot of these players in a City jersey for one reason or another. I know that might be music to some fans’ ears because they expect better than potentially finishing sixth in the First Division.
One player, I’m sure fans won’t be hoping that it isn’t his last appearance for the club is Barry Coffey. I was sceptical about the midfielder at the beginning of his City career.
He was often caught in possession of the ball and lacked sharpness. Of course, that was to be expected considering the amount of game time he had previous to joining the club.
Coffey is not a midfielder that is going to dictate the tempo of games. He’s not a player that drops deep and gets the ball off defenders. Coffey is a goalscoring midfielder and that is a trait that is rare now. Modern midfielders prefer to drop deep and look pretty by making 40-yard passes.
It’s seldom that a midfielder’s priority is to get into the opposition box and get on the scoresheet but Coffey is one of the few midfielders still concerned about scoring goals.
Coffey’s loan will expire after tonight’s game, and the player’s future will be affected by a lot of circumstances.
Do City want him back? I would think so. Does the player want to come back? After his performances for City, Coffey will be going back to Celtic as a more confident player and perhaps will want to stay and try and show that he is good enough for first-team football.
Celtic will also have a say in the player’s future. Even if they feel he is not ready for first-team football at the club and want to send him out on loan again, they might want Coffey to play at a higher level than the First Division in the League of Ireland.
The result here is immaterial, and what City should focus on is giving some of their academy players their first-team debuts.
I’m sure, City fans that will be in attendance at Turner's Cross tonight will be keen to see players like Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh, Cathal Heffernan and Mark O’Mahony in the starting 11 or at least come off the bench against John Caulfield’s side.
These players have to be given an opportunity at some stage in the first-team, and a difficult encounter against one of the better teams in the division, where the result does not really matter, is the ideal game for them I feel.
Although Galway do have more important games ahead, those players wouldn’t treat this game lightly and it would be an ideal opportunity to give some of those young City players to experience what’s required to compete at this level.