In the build up to Cork City’s first FAI Cup semi-final in eight years versus Bray Wanderers on Sunday, we spoke with City stopper Mark McNulty about the prospect of reaching the final, what it would be like to play in the Aviva Stadium and the importance of younger squad members getting a taste of success early in their careers.
Firstly we talked to the Ballincollig youth player about City’s opponents this Sunday. After three tight battles with Bray Wanderers already this term McNulty is in no doubt it will be a close-fought affair once again.
“Any team that plays away to Bray always have a tough, tight game, and the last three games we played against Bray have been tight. We had two 1-0 wins to ourselves and one 0-0 draw. It’s going to tough and we’ve no doubt it’s going to be a tough game but we’re still going up to win the game and it’d be brilliant to get to a cup final.”
With it being eight years now since City last lifted the FAI Cup aloft, McNulty never dreamt it would take so long for him to get this close to tasting success once again.
“When you’re in the squad back then you think these things will happen every year, every second year; whatever. If you’d asked me then would we be in another cup final a lot sooner than that, I would’ve said yeah.
“It’s hard to look back now and think it’s eight years or whatever it’s been since the last cup semi-final we’ve been in, so that’s what I’d say to a lot of the younger lads in the dressing room. It’s a big occasion, it’s a big chance to get to a cup final and they don’t come around that often. Hopefully we’ll do the job against Bray and have another cup final to look forward to.”
With younger players coming through at Cork City all the time, we asked the 34-year-old how important it is for the club’s future stars to get a trophy under their belts early on in their careers.
“Even just to see what the atmosphere’s like in a semi-final and getting to a cup final. We were in the cup final in 2007 and the atmosphere was unbelievable around the city and when you go to Dublin for the day – for the occasion itself – it’s fantastic and obviously if you win it it’s even better again, but it would be good for the [younger] boys to sense that and feel what that atmosphere’s like.
“It’s totally different to a league game at home in Turner’s Cross and I suppose there’s a lot of pressure on us now on Sunday but I’ve no doubt if our young players and senior players can pull together and do what we can do I’ve no doubt we can get to a cup final.”
The prospect of playing in the Aviva is one that the ex-Cobh Ramblers man would relish but he doesn’t care where it’s played as long as he can build on his FAI Cup winner’s medal tally, which McNulty feels isn’t a true reflection of some of the great squads he’s featured in down through the years.
“Obviously it would be nice to go and play in the Aviva but for an FAI Cup final I wouldn’t care if it was on the side of the street somewhere, an FAI Cup final is an FAI Cup final. Not too many players have medals. I’ve been with the club a long, long time and I’m lucky to have one FAI Cup medal.
“In thirteen years it’s not good enough really, especially with the players I’ve played with in the club, with the club being so good at times. There should be a lot more cup finals that we should be in but hopefully come this weekend we can do the business and then look forward to the final, and hopefully get another medal under my belt, which, as I said; one FAI Cup medal in the thirteen years that I’ve been with the club isn’t good enough.”
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena