Cork City FC manager Richie Holland faces a defining clash tomorrow night as Cork face Waterford in a relegation play-off in Tallaght. Photo: Tyler Miller/Sportsfile

City desperate to avoid another relegation

Tomorrow’s SSE Airtricity Premier Division relegation play-off between Cork City FC and Waterford FC has an “all or nothing” cup final feel about it, club manager Richie Holland has said.

Speaking at a press conference in Bishopstown on Tuesday, Holland, who took charge of the men’s first team in September, said the squad is “fully prepared for the challenge ahead”.

If City lose tomorrow, Friday, it will see the club relegated to the League of Ireland First Division, with Waterford taking City’s place in the Premier Division next season.

City had previously been relegated for the 2021 season before winning promotion back to the Premier Division for the 2023 season.

It’s been a tough campaign this year for City who have won just one game since Richie Holland took over from Liam Buckley after a 5-0 battering at the hands of Dundalk on 25 September. They lost 4-0 to Bohemians last weekend in their last league game of the season but they did beat Waterford 3-0 in the FAI Cup in August.

City finished this season 2nd from the bottom of the Premier Division with just 31 points from 36 games, setting them up for a relegation play-off with Waterford who finished 2nd in the First Division.

“The club (Cork City FC) is a massive club and it should be in the Premier Division but ‘shoulds’ don’t always get you there,” said Holland.

“There’s things this year probably on and off the pitch that we need to get better at. What Friday can do is give us a platform to push on,” he added.

Joining Holland at the press conference was Cork City FC midfielder Barry Coffey who said avoiding relegation “means everything” to the players.

“There’s a group of us who came towards the end of that first season in the First Division and then to see the journey to get to the Premier Division and what it means to people, not just in the club, but around the city – no one underestimates how important it is to keep this club in the Premier Division.”

Despite tomorrow’s match featuring two teams from Munster, the game will take place in Tallaght Stadium meaning both sets of fans are faced with a trip up to Dublin.

Holland said the venue isn’t ideal for fans looking to attend the showdown but said Cork City FC has “the best fans in the country” who have travelled the length and breadth of Ireland to support the team despite results on the pitch.

“I know this year hasn’t been what people wanted it to be, but they’ve stuck with us, and we appreciate that immensely,” he said.

Looking at the opposition on Friday night, Holland said Waterford are a good squad with plenty of good players and a lot of Premier Division experience.

Regarding injuries, Holland confirmed that midfielder Kevin Čustović is the biggest doubt for the match as he awaits a scan result on his injury.

Tomorrow’s SSE Airtricity Premier Division relegation play-off between Cork and Waterford kicks off at 7.45pm and will be broadcast live on Virgin Media Three.