Throwback Thursday: Remembering Cork City’s 2005 league title success 

Seventeen years ago this week Cork City beat Derry City to win the Premier Division title, writes Dylan O’Connell
Throwback Thursday: Remembering Cork City’s 2005 league title success 

Cork City's John O'Flynn celebrates his goal against Derry City during the league game at Turner Cross 

SEVENTEEN years ago this week Cork City beat Derry City to win the Premier Division title at a sold-out Turner's Cross.

Goals from John O'Flynn and Liam Kearney sent the club top of the league on the final day of the season and sent Cork into a state of delirium.

That was the fourth title won by a team from Leeside in three months; following the Rebel Treble of the Liam McCarthy Cup and the women's camogie and football double.

It was also the day that Roy Keane announced he was leaving Manchester United after 13 years and seven Premier League titles.

The Irish sporting world had their eyes on Cork, and all the pressure was on the Rebel Army as they had to beat a Derry City.

The Candystripes travelled to Leeside with a one point lead at the top of the table and Stephen Kenny’s men just needed a draw.

Celebration time in Cork City's dressingroom after City defeated Derry City to clinch the Eircom League trophy. /CORK CITY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2005 /Pic: Brian Lougheed
Celebration time in Cork City's dressingroom after City defeated Derry City to clinch the Eircom League trophy. /CORK CITY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2005 /Pic: Brian Lougheed

They had to face a city team with a point to prove after losing the league title on the final day of the season in 2004. This was a group who had been working towards a piece of national silverware since 2002; when they thumped reigning league champions Shelbourne 3-0 at Turner’s Cross.

A new look team featuring future legends John O'Flynn and George O'Callaghan announced themselves that day and they clearly wanted more. The team’s first real statement was a memorable run in the Intertoto Cup in 2004. City overcame Sweden's Malmö and Nijmegen of the Netherlands and this made them the first Irish team to reach the quarter finals of a European competition. Even though Nante got the better of City in the next round, the team only just narrowly lost to their French counterparts.

2005 was the gauntlet and the everyone in the squad knew what needed to be done. The make-up of the squad reflected this target, as it was stacked with talent. Mick Devine was the mobile and lightening quick goalkeeper. Liam Kearney was the flare on the wing and Dan Murray marshalled the defence alongside Alan Bennett.

It was a group that knew the Cork footballing story, and how the last title decider on Leeside ended in a narrow defeat to Dundalk.

Before the meeting with Derry, City won the Munster Senior Cup and they progressed to the first round proper of the UEFA Cup by beating FK Ekranas and Djurgårdens. They also reached their first FAI Cup final in seven years after a last minute penalty gave them a 1-0 win over Derry City in the Brandywell.

The team were crossing off every challenge, and on November 18th 2005, a title decider with Derry City stood on top of that list.

Celebration time in Cork City's dressingroom after City defeated Derry City to clinch the Eircom League trophy, from left: Dan Murray, Alan Bennett and Neal Horgan.Pic: Brian Lougheed
Celebration time in Cork City's dressingroom after City defeated Derry City to clinch the Eircom League trophy, from left: Dan Murray, Alan Bennett and Neal Horgan.Pic: Brian Lougheed

The emotion of the task was heightened as it was the last night of the old Shed, the famous stand that saw many of the clubs best days.

To Damien Richardson, it was a personal conquest as he had finished runners up in the Premier Division three times as a player and three times as manager.

City weren’t intimidated by the wider events and they scored inside 18 minutes when an unmarked John O’Flynn guided in a cross from George O’Callaghan.

It was a rush of blood moment that brought everyone to their feet inside Turner’s Cross. As the crowd savoured the opening goal, they fell silent after Roy O’Donovan tackled Seán Hargan. The forward was already on a booking and the referee waved this on, which brought a major sigh of relief from the terraces.

Roy O’Donovan then combined with Denis Behan and the midfielder set up Liam Kearney to score City’s second goal of the game.

The striker should have got a goal of us own but his effort was well saved by Derry goalkeeper David Forde.

Derry did everything they could to pull a goal back and get a life line in the title decider. The closet they went to scoring was a header from Paddy McCourt, and Mick Devine stopped this.

The goalkeeper also made sure to knock a Killian Brennan free-kick onto the cross bar in the final second of the game.

Celebration time in Cork City's dressingroom for manager Damien Richardson after City defeated Derry City to clinch the Eircom League trophy. Pic: Brian Lougheed
Celebration time in Cork City's dressingroom for manager Damien Richardson after City defeated Derry City to clinch the Eircom League trophy. Pic: Brian Lougheed

That ended a perfect league season at Turner’s Cross and the full time whistle saw hundreds of people run onto the pitch to celebrate with the team.

Dan Murray lifted the trophy alongside his team-mates, and the picture has become immortalised as one of the all time greatest images of Cork sport.

A few weeks later City lost the FAI Cup final to Drogheda United, and they were denied a chance of winning the double. It was a gutting way to end the campaign but through the long winter, memories of that night against Derry soothed the disappointment ahead of the new year and the club's return to the Champions League.

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