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The League of Ireland as a whole has had its ups and downs over the years. These ups and downs are far more visible at two of Munster’s biggest clubs, Waterford United and Cork City FC.
The margin between success and failure is a fine line and both of these teams were on par only just three years ago when they were battling it out in the First Division alongside Limerick and Shelbourne. Waterford United have missed out on promotion by a fraction numerous times whilst Cork had Graham Cummins last minute goal at Tolka Park to thank for their safe passage to the Premier Division in 2011.
Waterford Utd fans will not be forgetting in a hurry that they welcomed the newly formed and supporter owned Cork City FORAS to the first division when the teams met at a packed Turners Cross on March 12th 2010 and ‘The Blues’ managed by Stephen Henderson won 2-0 thanks to goals by Alan Carey and current Waterford striker Vinny Sullivan. 'The Blues' team on that day also contained a familiar face to Cork City fans, the ‘Conna Maradona’ Liam Kearney who has just returned for another spell on Leeside after a number of years in Australia.
Look forward four years later and things are very different both on and off the field. Cork City are thriving in the Premier Division with a renaissance under club legend John Caulfield who has powered 'The Leesider’s' to the top half of the SSEAirtricity premier Division.
In stark contrast, 'The Blues' are mid table in what has to be one of the weakest first divisions in many years and this argument is backed up by the inclusion of a Shamrock Rovers B team, which have so far been competitive. An eight team league has its downfalls and the lack of different opposition will certainly be one of them.
Tommy Griffin’s Waterford United are in the midst of a financial crisis which almost cost the Blues boss a number of his best players due to financial cutbacks. Thankfully this seems to have been averted due to other cutbacks being found but a long season awaits this young team that contains no fewer than 7 recent U19 players for that came through the clubs youth ranks.
Waterford United may not have the numbers coming to games like their rivals do but they certainly aren’t short of loyalty and passion. Every fortnight the Blue Army Ultras pack Block E and provide the RSC with an atmosphere which the Waterford United players thrive on.
Cork City are making massive strides both on and off the pitch and must be very happy at the regular crowds of over 4,000 and the great start they have made this season may be linked to the support they received.
John Caulfield was eager to put the 4-0 away defeat to Dundalk behind him and did so by beating Waterford Utd in the EA Sports cup. Afterwards, the Rebel Army had a strong performance at Richmond Park in the Airtricity league but a stoppage time goal by St.Pat’s meant the Leesiders headed back home with 'nul points'. Their title challenge is now back on track after beating Derry City at Turners Cross on Friday.
Waterford United entertained Shelbourne last weekend at the RSC and will have been disappointed to have not got at least a point in what was described as a 'smash and grab' performance by Shels who now look favourites to take the first division crown this season if they can be consistent. The Blues beat local rivals Wexford Youths on Friday at Ferrycarrig to revenge the defeat at the RSC earlier in the season & the South East team who will be looking at ending their separation from their biggest rivals and making it back to the Premier Division.