Club: Cork City
Head Coach: John Cotter
Stadium: Turners Cross
Highest attendance this season: 4,382
Cork City’s first home game of the season saw their highest numbers at the Cross reached, in a forgettable night for the Leesiders who lost 2-0 to Munster rivals Waterford.
Highest league goalscorer: Graham Cummins (4).
Mid-season position: 7th
How we thought they would do
The Rebel Amy were tipped for a third placed finish for 2019, behind Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk by the Extratime.ie team.
How they really have done
The 2018 Premier Division and FAI Cup runners up have struggled in the first half of 2019. On the back of three consecutive second place finishes, a league and cup double in 2017 and another second-place finish last year, 2019 has seen the Rebel Army drop to their lowest ebb since 2013. Picking up just six wins all season, Cork’s league form has been plagued with issues both on and off the pitch.
Up front, Cork City have just scored eighteen goals this season. This is a worrying stat, with just six goals from open play. The rest have come from a heavy reliance on corner kicks (8 goals from corners) free kicks (three, with two directly scored and one headed in) and one penalty kick.
City have also conceded 27 goals at the midway point of the season. To put that into perspective, Cork City under John Caulfield from 2014-2018 had an average of 24.6 goals conceded per season. At the halfway point of this year, City now have conceded more goals this than the entire 2014-2017 seasons.
2019 has also seen Cork City change management for the first time since 2013, following the dismissal of John Caulfield in May. The 2017 double winner and club record goal scorer was let go of his management duties at the club following a 1-1 draw against Finn Harps, in a week which saw City slide into the bottom three and just above the relegation zone. After five seasons, John Cotter has stepped up from first team coach to manager as City look for a permanent replacement to the job.
Moment of the season so far:
A Conor McCarthy header ended an eight-game winless run for City last May as they overcame Bohemians 1-0 at Dalymount Park. In a run which saw five defeats and three draws, this was a major moment for City in what was their first game following the dismissal of manager John Caulfield. It was a determined performance from City, who dug deep against a high-flying Bohemians who had not lost until that point to get all three points in the capital.
Star Player: Gearoid Morrissey
Now in his fourth season back on Leeside, the Cork local has defined his role in Cork City’s midfield as the vocal driving force of the Rebel Army. Having missed the opening two games of the season through injury, Morrissey’s presence was certainly felt as the traditional box to box midfielder for City. His return saw sparks, as in his opening two games back he found the net twice in two spectacular shots from outside of the box. This wasn’t the only thing provided, as Morrissey emerged as the conductor for City in controlling games. Making thirteen appearances so far, Morrissey has been the steady voice in a turbulent year on Leeside.
Surprise star player: Conor McCarthy
The former underage star has really solidified is place at Cork City in 2019, starting in both the centre back and right back roles. Having graduated from the under 19s in 2016, McCarthy always featured intermittently for City, since making his full league debut three years ago at Tallaght Stadium. McCarthy has made 21 appearances this year, keeping five clean sheets as he takes over the mantle from now assistant manager Alan Bennett. McCarthy has also shown an eye for goal, finding the net three times this season.
Young player: Cian Bargary
Since graduating to the first team last January, the 18-year-old attacking midfielder has stood out in attack for City in his two league appearances. Making his debut in a 0-0 draw against Sligo Rovers, the Tipperary native was lively and paced as he carried City for the final moments of the game. His awareness a few weeks later to knock it in against UCD gave him his first league goal in his first away appearance for the club. In just two games Bargary defined the promise of City’s youth academy as he continues his development.
Star signing: Daire O’Connor
Daire O’Connor has been a standout force for City going forward since his signing from UCD last winter on a two-year deal. The attacking midfielder made thirty appearances for the Students last season, where he won both the First Division title and Collingwood Cup. Stepping into the Premier Division, O’Connor has had no transition period as he runs and pushes City’s attack in an attacking midfield role. While injuries have blighted his season so far, O’Connor in his sixteen appearances has been quick footed, energetic and fast behind the striker.
What they need to do in the transfer market
It cannot be denied the need for Cork City to invest in their attack when the transfer window opens. Before the season started, former manager John Caulfield had stressed the need for a goal scorer in the team. City originally invested in a number of options; Liam Nash, Darragh Rainsford, and Dan Smith, but none have provided on this front. As of the mid-season break, only Darragh Rainsford remains at the club, and even through this the former Pike Rovers striker has not found the net in twenty appearances at the club. In a squad which has only scored eighteen goals, and with the club’s top scorer only on four, City will need to strengthen and provide a release at the top if they are to have any chance of European qualification.
Where we see them finishing
Any late run for the title is certainly out of reach for City as they look to salvage a European spot. Home fixtures against European rivals St. Patrick’s Athletic, Derry City and Sligo Rovers all lie ahead for City in what could determine this season. One thing will be standing for the Rebel Army through this, is their dogmatic home record. Having only three home losses this year and against teams such as St. Pats and Derry, who haven’t won in the league at the Cross since 2013, and Sligo who have only won three away games this year. This could be decisive in a late season surge for the City who could make push run for fourth spot.