A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today
Twice league champions, runners-up from 2014 to 2016, Cork City are one of the biggest clubs in Ireland in terms of support, professional status and infrastructure.
In 2015, fan-owned Cork also attracted the highest average league gate, boosted by a near 7,000 crowd for the visit of Dundalk, their nearest provincial rivals in terms of attendances and recently won silverware.
Indeed, Dundalk not only beat Cork to the title but pipped them 1-0 after extra time in the FAI Cup final in front of 25,000-plus in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
A year later, Cork gained revenge, former Dundalk striker Seán Maguire drilling a low shot into the net after 120 energy-sapping minutes to win the cup for the Leesiders.
City, near constant top-flight contenders since their formation in 1984, entered Europe for the 12th time of asking in 2016-17. At home, they recently surpassed the longevity record of Evergreen United/Cork Celtic, in business for 28 years, one of nine senior clubs to have set up in Ireland’s second city since the first in 1924.
After nearly going out of business in 2010, saved and revived by their supporters, Cork City are firmly here to stay.
Created in the wake of the bankruptcy of Cork United in 1982, the Leesiders looked like going the way of their predecessors in the history of soccer in the city. Moving in 1986 from the Flower Lodge to Turners Cross – both long-established local soccer venues – Cork City picked up under managers Noel O’Mahony and Eamonn O’Keefe, a former Cork Hibernians defender and ex-Everton striker respectively.
During his three spells at Turners Cross, close to his native Ballyphehane, no-nonsense O’Mahony earned Cork silverware at home and kudos in Europe. In the UEFA Cup of 1991-92, his Cork side drew with Bayern Munich. After midfield stalwart Dave Barry opened the scoring, a Stefan Effenberg strike shortly before half-time levelled the game, staged at the main local rugby ground of Musgrave Park in Ballyphehane. A fortnight later, Bayern needed a late penalty from Christian Ziege to put the tie to bed, winning 2-0 at the Olympiastadion.
Barry, Welsh goalkeeper Phil Harrington, Scot midfielder Gerry McCabe and Bronx-born striker John Caulfield were then part of the Cork side that won the club’s first league title in 1992-93, decided for the one and only time on a bizarre, three-team play-off system.
This success and the prospect of money from Europe – Cork narrowly went out to Galatasaray in the first round of the Champions League in 1993-94, Barry also scoring the only goal – led the club to leave Turners Cross for Bishopstown.
Fewer crowds made the trek to inaccessible, unpopular Bishopstown, revenues tumbled and Cork City were soon in trouble. The club all but disappeared before a move back to Turners Cross in 1996. Bishopstown now hosts Cork Women’s FC and first-team training.
With Barry now manager, Cork bounced back to win the FAI and League Cup in successive years, also performing strongly in the league. But it took the managerial return of Damien Richardson in 2005 for Cork to lift the trophy a second time, a strong late challenge from Derry bringing the title down to the wire at Turners Cross. In the end, goals from later Exeter striker John O’Flynn and Liam Kearney, the ‘Conna Maradona’, saw Cork win 2-0 and be crowned champions.
Development at Turners Cross allowed three rounds of UEFA Cup home ties to be played there, including an away goals win over Djurgården and narrow defeat to Slavia Prague.
Confusion over contracts, transfers and the deal with a key investor then led to further financial and legal wranglings. Eventually, a committed group of Cork supporters banded together to buy the ailing club, officially titled Cork City FORAS Co-op, and able to play in the lower-flight First Division.
Promoted after two seasons, Cork remained under the ownership of a supporters’ trust as joint record goalscorer John Caulfield from the 1993 title-winning side came on board as manager.
Placed second after a sell-out title showdown at Dundalk in 2014, Cork again trailed the Lilywhites in 2015 and 2016. The Leesiders gained early revenge at the curtain-raiser to the 2016 season by winning the President’s Cup. Seán Maguire set the tone by scoring against his old club Dundalk – then repeated the feat at season’s end.
The field of dreams – and the stands around it
All-seated and all-covered, Turners Cross is the most impressive soccer stadium in Ireland outside Dublin. A sports ground since the 1890s, ‘The Cross’ was home to Cork Celtic for nearly three decades until the late 1970s but was little improved when Cork City took it over in 1986.
Although attracting a crowd as large as 12,000 in 1991, the ground was not considered part of the ambitious club’s future, and Cork left for unloved Bishopstown in 1993.
By 1996, all but bankrupt, the club returned and within a decade had the wherewithal to begin having the ground fully developed. Now all-seated, Turners Cross comprises four stands: Donie Forde houses the press and family sections, opposite the Derrynane Road Stand, where visiting fans are allocated two sections nearest the St Anne’s End.
Curragh Road, built in 2007 on The Shed terrace, remains home to the Rebel Army.
Capacity is 6,900.
Getting to the ground – tips and timings
Turners Cross is too far to walk from either Kent rail or Parnell Place bus station. Buses 226 and 226A, that run between the train and bus stations, and Cork airport every 30min, stop at Evergreen Road, reasonably close to Turners Cross stadium.
From the city centre, and stopping closer to the stadium, the 203, runs every 15mins (every 30min eve & Sun), to Curragh Road (Turners Cross), journey time 15mins. Buses leave from St Patrick’s Street, just down from the Father Mathew statue, by the Marks & Spencer store in the Merchants Quay centre.
Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much
Advance tickets are available at the club shop (Mon-Wed 11am-5pm, Thur-Sat 10am-5pm) in the Douglas Village Shopping Centre on the far south-western outskirts of town, the SoHo bar/restaurant on Grand Parade and The Beer Garden pub near the ground in Turners Cross.
Tickets are also distributed online through Ticketmaster.
On the day, tickets are sold from the huts at the main entrance on the Curragh Road. Windows open 1hr 15mins before kick-off. Visiting supporters have a separate outlet by the St Anne’s Park entrance.
There’s an across-the-board pricing system of €15, €10 for under-18s, €5 for under-13s and seniors.
what to buy
Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts
Souvenirs are sold at the club shop (Mon-Wed 11am-5pm, Thur-Sat 10am-5pm) in the Douglas Village Shopping Centre on the south-western outskirts of town.
There’s also a match-night outlet at the Curragh Road end of the ground.
Where to Drink
Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors
There’s a handful of pubs along Evergreen Road within a reasonably short walk of the ground, and one right alongside.
Closer still at No.10, pick of the bunch is The Beer Garden. Also an outlet for match tickets, this barn of a place has the best selection of beers, decent, good-value food and a pool table.
Long closed, the Turners Cross Tavern has been sold and should be under new ownership soon.
Right by the ground, between the main Donie Forde Stand and home end on the Curragh Road, the cream-coloured Horseshoe Inn is invariably packed on match nights.