29 October, 2011

Is Cork City FC the new Shamrock Rovers? WE ARE CITY. WE ARE PREMIER LEAGUE!

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Cork City FC players and fans celebrate getting back where they belong
"Can all fans please stay off the pitch at the end of the game" - Yeah; good luck with that stewards!      

     Whilst it was not a surprise to see Cork City promoted to the Airtricity League Premier Division tonight;  it was certainly surprising to see the Title claimed in the most dramatic of circumstances.              
              Tonight's game appeared to be petering out to a 1-1 stalemate until the fourth minute of injury-time when Graham Cummins stooped to conquer and head home the goal that brings City back where they belong and silverware that their season deserved.
Title decider bore some similarity to famous 1999 European Cup Final
PICTURE:  Getty Images
                 One of the two sides tonight was going to lift the Division One Trophy tonight.  The lateness and consequence of the goal reminded one of the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final at the Nou Camp in Barcelona.  UEFA President Lennart Johansonn had witnessed Bayern Munich FC take a sixth minute lead over Manchester United and were still 1-0 ahead in injury-time at the end of the game.  The President decided to go into the bowels of the stadium and take the elevator from the upper echelons of the multi-tiered Catalan cavern.  Of course everyone knows now that in the 80 or so seconds it took Johansonn to descend to pitch-side;  United scored two and were seen joyously celebrating the final whistle.  UEFA's most senior citizen proceeded to ask his aides:  "Why are the losers celebrating and the winners on the floor in despair?!"  There were similar scenes - if in less opulent surroundings witnessed tonight - as Graham Cummins last gasp winner sent all from the  "Real Capital"  into raptures when the Title had appeared lost.  In the end; one goal was effectively the difference between the clubs over the entire season.
City's keeper Mark McNulty (grounded) kept his side in it in the first half
              There can be little doubt that City deserved to win the First Division Title based on the way they have finished the second half of the season.  The fact that they lost just one game all season - compared to the six defeats of their nearest rival (Shels) - is also a telling statistic.
              Whilst City were the Team of the Division over the season; the Rebel Army played second fiddle to their hosts for the majority of the first half.  Though taking the lead through the always consistent Daryl Horgan on four minutes;   the visitors didn't capitalise from there and Shelbourne were deservedly level on 27 minutes.  In fact;  had the final whistle been blown on 45 minutes;  City's goalkeeper Mark McNulty would have been man of the match having pulled off three top drawer saves and showing composure under a number of balls pumped into his box.  Little wonder that he has been the Leesider's number one Number One for the last five years.
Shels thought this goal had won them the League Title
             In truth, the second half was much less open than the free flowing opening 45 minutes.  Both managers changed tactics to a tighter formation and emptied their bench well before the end.  City were offering little in the way of an attacking threat and entering the closing quarter, Shels seemed comfortable and looked to be coasting to the draw they needed to win protion as First Division Champions.

Shels boss Alan Matthews
             Shels manager (and former Cork City FC boss) Alan Matthews was asked beforehand if the fact that his side only required a point to lift the Title would negatively impact his side psychologically replied by saying that his side would  "bust a gut"  to win the game and that his players would do everything they could to play a part in the Cup Final at the AVIVA on Sunday week. 
Combatative captain Greg O'Halloran kept Cork City ticking in second half
                However, Matthew's words appeared not to be heeded by his players towards the end of the 90 minutes as they withdrew deeper and deeper into into their own half as the clock wound down.  It looked as if they had done enough however, until Graham Cummins late, decisive strike.
           These are indeed exciting times for Cork City FC.  The comparisons between City and Shamrock Rovers are many and stark.  Both clubs almost went out of existence just a few years ago.  Both clubs were relegated for entirely off the field reasons.
CHAMPIONS:    Graham Cummins nets latest of late Title winners
Both clubs were saved by their fans - and now entirely run and financed - by their fans.  
     Both clubs have now won promotion (and the First Division Title) just a few short seasons after near extinction.  Both clubs have tremendously proud histories and terrific fan bases with the potential for major expansion.  Both clubs have the potential to go places that they - or any League of Ireland club - has never been.
WE ARE CITY. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Airtricity League First Division 2011
        Whilst Rovers have already achieved just that by reaching the Group Stages of the Europa League, I suspect that some day - City could become the first Irish side to reach the Group Stages of the Champions League.  Now that would be something to get all Irish football people excited about.  In the short term at least;  the greatest rivalry in Irish soccer (City/Rovers) has once again been resurrected after a four year hiatus.
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