As Cork City’s squad takes shape for the new season one can’t help but seeing distinct resemblances with Cork sides of the past. Rob Lyons discusses.
“A team of the people”
This is how Cork City manager John Caulfield described his side midway through last season after Dan Murray had scored a late winner to beat old foes Shamrock Rovers 1-0 at Turner’s Cross.
The phrase used that night by the club’s joint all-time top goalscorer was directed at how the fans of the club had responded to the way in which a team of mostly Cork-born players had been performing.
The recent signings of Alan Bennett and Liam Miller have only added to the core of Corkmen which now make up the majority of 2015’s Cork City squad.
Looking over the Rebel Army’s team for the new season, one sees that there are only a handful of players who don’t descend from the surrounding area or have a long-term connection to the club such as the aforementioned Dan Murray.
The squad also now certainly has a mid-noughties ring to it with names such as Alan Bennett, John O’Flynn, Mark McNulty, Dan Murray and Liam Kearney all making up the team. These are all players who would have been with the club when the Leesiders last won the Premier Division title, in 2005.
If this amount of legendary names being at the club is to be a contributing factor in any Cork success in 2015 remains to be seen but with such experience on the side of the Rebel Army, along with exciting youth talent such as Gary Buckley, Rob Lehane, Danny Morrissey and John Kavanagh, City will certainly be within at least touching distance of the other title challengers this year.
When speaking at a press conference recently, unveiling the signing of Cork-born Liam Miller, Caulfield spoke of how coming to Cork is a ‘unique’ experience,
“It’s very hard to explain and very hard to understand for people from outside of Cork. I’ve been living here for 30 years so I know it quite well. We’ve exported so many Cork guys abroad. A lot of them leave and go to England, Scotland [and] further afield but their intention is always to come home.
“You had Colin [Healy] coming back, Liam came back. We have a lot of Cork guys out there who want to come back and live the rest of their lives here. Their families are young and with Liam it was a lifestyle change. He has a young family. He’s a Cork lad; Liam at the end of the day wanted to come home.”
These comments from the City boss give an indication of just how strong the draw is for players of the quality of Miller and Colin Healy to come home and ply their trade in their hometown.
It also may be a reason so many greats have come back to the club after what had been a turbulent time, financially, for the club only a few short years after gaining so much success between 2004 and 2007.
When discussing the factors that contributed to the Leesiders’ rise to Premier Division challengers from a mid-table side in just one season; having such a large nucleus of Cork players is often cited as a possible contributing factor.
Former Premier Division champion with Cork City, Derek Coughlan wrote for Pundit Arena last October, explaining how Cork City is like a GAA club in terms of the local talent it produces,
“Cork City is nearly like a GAA club within a soccer environment and it has that atmosphere in the club. Having Cork players there and with so many to choose from, it’s just a matter of someone going out there and bringing in these players and giving them a chance.”
Bringing back old greats can often be a recipe for disaster, however the players Caulfield has re-signed or brought in in are arguably capable of playing to a higher standard than they did first time round, with more experience behind them now.
Bennett, O’Flynn, McNulty and co. may have been around the block but there doesn’t appear to be any signs that they can’t do it anymore.
It was unusual in many respects last term to see so many familiar faces back at the Leeside club after such a long time away and Bennett only adds to this contingent, however combined with the new additions of the likes of Miller, Kieran Djilali and Karl Sheppard, it’s difficult to discount a second title challenge from Cork City this year.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena
Read More About: alan bennett, colin healy, cork city, Cork City FC, dan murray, irish football, Irish football news, john caulfield, john o'flynn, karl sheppard, kieran djilali, League of Ireland news, liam kearney, Liam Miller, LOI Premier Division, mark mcnulty