News and Views

Op Ed: Triumph over adversity

16 Nov
The champions!

The League of Ireland is arguably the most competitive league in all of Europe. Winning this league is extremely difficult.

Over the past forty years, no club has won more than eight league championships. This is the lowest number of titles when compared to the most successful club in every other European League.

Becoming champions is all the more difficult when competing against one of the best teams in the League’s recent history. Not since Shamrock Rovers in the mid-1980s had a team won three titles in a row. Dundalk was aiming to become only the 4th club to achieve this feat. The first of course had been the great Cork United team of the 1940s.

Cork United. A team some may not recall with ease. The truth is this city has had many League of Ireland clubs. Fordsons, Cork FC, Cork Bohemians, Cork Athletic, Evergreen United, Cork Celtic, Cork Hibernians, Albert Rovers, Cork Alberts and Cork City. The list is a timely reminder of just how hard it is to survive.

By early 2010 Cork City faced a similar plight to all previous teams from this city. After expulsion from the Premier Division at the end of the previous season, the future did not look bright. Dublin City, Kilkenny City and Kildare County were worrying examples of what could happen to League of Ireland clubs. All ceased to exist in the years leading up to Cork City’s crisis.  

The people of Cork would not let their club follow the same fate. The response exemplary. The outcome very different but certainly not inevitable. One need only look at what has happened to the likes of Monaghan United and Sporting Fingal to witness the other side of the story.  

It took hard work, dedication and no shortage of skill and determination from volunteers. Ordinary people that gave so willingly of their time to support a club that meant so much. These people refused to be part of yet another defunct senior club from this city. Since then Cork City have not looked back.

A First Division Title in 2011 was followed by consolidation in the Premier League in the seasons thereafter. By the summer of 2015, European football had returned to Turners Cross in the form of the Europa League. KR Reykjavík, Linfield, BK Häcken, KRC Genk, Levadia Tallinn and AEK Larnaca have all visited since. The FAI Senior Cup arrived on the banks of the Lee for the first time in nearly a decade in 2016.

In just seven years the club had travelled the long road from the second tier of Irish football to winning the double. Champions League football will arrive in 2018. A remarkable achievement made all the more remarkable by the years leading up to this success. Most clubs that suffer relegation take a decade or more to return to anywhere near their former glories. Some never return.

Whilst a single point at home to Derry City sealed a first League crown since 2005, and a single kick at the Aviva stadium secured the club’s first ever double, the road to success has not been so simple. It belongs to many people. The players, management, committee and supporters. All of the volunteers that complete the thankless tasks that keep the club moving forward. In fact, anybody that has assisted, in any way, since those fateful days in early 2010.

Some clubs win the league. Few win the double. Fewer still do the double on the back of relegation and crisis in the years preceding. Some take years to return to become champions.  Some never do. In Cork, it took just seven.

 

Dr Robert Butler, Department of Economics, UCC      

UCC will host a reception for Cork City FC to mark their double triumph.  The University is the main sponsor of the club.                      

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 YN60

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