Cork City were founded in 1984 after a two-year gap in senior football on Leeside, with Bobby Tambling coming in at the helm to manage the club as they were accepted into the League of Ireland. The club didn’t prosper in their opening couple of seasons, narrowly avoiding relegation to the second tier, with poor crowds coming to games at Flower Lodge.
City moved to Turner’s Cross for the ’86-87 season however, and the club eventually got its hands on some silverware when they captured the League Cup at home to Shamrock Rovers in ’87-88. In the following season, despite being engulfed in another relegation battle, the club made it to the FAI Cup final, only to be beaten by Derry City. The defeat in the Blue Riband game gave the Leesiders a place in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
They made their inaugural jaunt into continental competition in 1990-91, when a far superior Torpedo Moscow easily dispatched them 6-0 on aggregate. City went close to winning the league that year only to be defeated by eventual champions Dundalk in front of a bumper crowd at Turner’s Cross: their first real push for the title.
A third placed finish saw the club miss out on Europe the following year, while there was further disappointment when Bohemians defeated them in the cup. The real glory was to come in ’92-93 though, as the club came out on top in a three-way play-off to win their first league title – eventually beating Shels 3-2 at the RDS in the sixth play-off game, as Bohemians also fell short.
The club continued to prosper as they moved to a new complex in Bishopstown. Noel O’Mahony also retired at the end of the season, with Damien Richardson stepping into the dugout for his first spell. His first campaign ended with the club finishing narrowly behind Shamrock Rovers in the league, and failing to retain the league.
1995 proved to be a difficult year for the club, beaten by Slavia Prague in Europe and doing well in the league, Richardson resigned at Christmas and although O’Mahony came back to the fold, the campaign was fruitless in the end. Bishopstown was akin to a marsh and the club were forced to play in Turner’s Cross, St Colman’s Park and even in Tolka Park with the pitch unplayable.
If that season proved to be a mess, then ’96 was a complete disaster. Rob Hindmarch came in as manager, the club entered receivership and they were homeless after leaving Bishopstown. After a three-point deduction, relegation was a threat but they just survived.
The club were happy just to be surviving for much of the ’96-97 campaign but a powerful finish to the campaign saw them secure fourth place and a spot in the now defunct Intertoto Cup. With increasing attendances, the club were solid in Europe the following campaign, and Derek Coughlan became a hero when he bundled home against Shelbourne to win the FAI Cup at Dalymount in a tense replay after the original game finished scoreless.
A runners-up spot followed in ’98-99, with St Pat’s somehow managing to eclipse City, who still won 70 points out of 99. Second spot was City’s again at the turn of the Millenium, with Shelbourne finishing miles ahead of the chasing pack, though Dave Barry said goodbye.
Colin Murphy was intended as a replacement the following campaign, but his reign lasted just a single game before running cross-channel, with Derek Mountfield coming in to replace him. The latter only lasted six months however, before being sacked after some disastrous results. Liam Murphy managed to steady the ship though, and the club went on a good run near the end of the season to finish with another spot in the Intertoto Cup.
2001-02 was a disappointing year for the team, with a mid-table finish and no real standout memories, although the following campaign saw City reach the last four of the FAI Cup only to be knocked out by Derry, while they managed just a single victory on the road, with an over-reliance on home form. Some captivating signings, such as John O’Flynn and George O’Callaghan, saw the club turn into a terrific attacking proposition, nonetheless.
The switch to summer football coincided with Pat Dolan setting out his three-year plan after Murphy’s resignation and all of a sudden the team looked like world-beaters. Dolan demanded professionalism and despite some major changes in personnel, the club still finished with an Intertoto spot.
That European jaunt in ’04 would prove to be one of the most memorable moments in the club’s history. After defeating Swedish outfit Malmo with ease, narrowly beating impressive Dutch outfit NEC, City faced French fliers Nantes in the quarter-final. They were narrowly undone however, despite drawing 1-1 at a packed Turner’s Cross. Still, it showed the improvements being made by the side, with several stars making big names for themselves.
Dolan’s plan was still on track as they finished runners-up in the league with a strong finish. Disaster is never far from the club though, and an argument between Dolan and club owner Brian Lennox saw the manager depart in pre-season, to be replaced by Richardson.
Although he had a health scare mid-way through the 2005 campaign, Richardson, in his second spell at City, guided the club to the league title. Despite arguments that it was Dolan’s team, the season was still the most memorable to date. Negotiating their way into the UEFA Cup proper, City did themselves proud against Slavia Prague despite being knocked out.
But the league form remained impressive setting-up a straight shootout with Derry City in the last game of the season at Turner’s Cross to decide the champions. Sold out well in advance, an estimated 12,000 packed into the venue to witness the home side run out 2-0 winners to capture their second league title. Richardson also brought the team to Lansdowne Road a fortnight later only for Drogheda United to capture the cup in front of 24,000.
2006 was a strange year, the loss of the famous Shed End at the ‘Cross deflated the atmosphere at home games and despite making it into the second qualifying round of the Champions League, Red Star Belgrade had Nikolas Zigic on hand to knock City out of Europe. They still managed to reach the Setanta Cup final, only for Drogs to defeat them in the showpiece again at Tolka Park, while City were left with 4th spot in the league.
The next season saw two big names signings in Colin Healy and Gareth Farrelly – only for both deemed ineligible for breaching FIFA’s three-club rule – while some big names also went cross-channel with George O’Callaghan and Roy O’Donovan making the move. Another 4th place finish and defeat in the Setanta Cup semi-final saw the club endure an average time on the pitch. Until, of course, Denis Behan headed home at the RDS to win the FAI Cup against Longford Town. The real struggle came off the field though, as Brian Lennox ran out of money and sold the club over to what turned out to be a shady organisation in Arkaga.
Richardson departed and Alan Matthews replaced him for 2008 but financial difficulties saw the club slip into examinership, with the now infamous Tom Coughlan saving the club from the mire momentarily in October. The club then went on to win the Setanta Cup against Glentoran in a feisty occasion, but the league was a disappointment when they finished 5th.
Paul Doolin became manager in 2009 after Matthews parted company with the club over monetary issues and the club were momentarily put out of existence after Coughlan failed to pay the Revenue commissioner. Having been granted numerous extensions, the property developer refused to cough up the money owed before a secret donation saw the bill paid at the death.
Doolin left at the end of the season, despite a third place finish in the league, with Roddy Collins appointed prior to the 2010 campaign. The club were denied a licence however, after more financial irregularities, while the majority of players at the club departed after their wages were left unpaid by Coughlan.
After the licence refusal, FORAS, a fans trust set up to protect the future of the club, applied for their own licence. And although the club would need to start on a clean slate in the First Division, Tommy Dunne was given just two weeks to prepare at team for league action. Playing under the name of Cork City FORAS Co-op for the season, the club turned in a satisfactory performance finishing in sixth place.
More importantly, the naming rights were bought back in June and for the 2011 campaign, the club, on a very sound financial footing, will revert back to their original title.
If you spot incorrect info, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Six Results
Cork City scores first