Cian Coleman of celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division Promotion/Relegation play-off match which Cork City lost 2-1 AET at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Editorial: City have to start again

Back to basics. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Cork City’s 2023 campaign was just about par until last weekend. Second from bottom in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division was not a great season by any means but given the relative lack of resources, it wasn’t a huge surprise either. The substantial gap to the third from bottom team Sligo Rovers was more of an issue.

Six points doesn’t seem that huge but City managed only 4 points from their last five games while Sligo managed only a point. Getting a win more would really have put the pressure on Sligo.

UCD were comfortably the worst team in the division, winning only 11 points and conceding 96 goals, finishing with a goal difference of -77. City won 31 points and conceded 64 goals, finishing with a goal difference of -29. City’s last win was against UCD on 22 October. City also drew and lost to UCD earlier in the season. Those five points would have given City a real chance.

Cork City went into last Friday’s Promotion/Relegation playoff against Waterford FC with little form but we did beat them 3-0 in the FAI Cup at home in August. That was a hugely entertaining if ultimately crushing game. City played well in spells, as did Waterford. City were very unlucky to lose three players to injury by half-time including the influential Ruairí Keating, City’s top scorer by a distance.

The first half finished 0-0 but was end to end at times with great chances at both ends, although Waterford were certainly on top. The second half continued in that attacking vein, with both teams really having a go. Cian Coleman scored the opener early in the second half after 55 minutes when he steered home a wicked cross from a free kick by Barry Coffey. This lead to Waterford’s most quiet sequence of the match, but this was brought to an end by a sensational equaliser from distance by Connor Parson after 68 minutes.

City and Waterford each missed great chances and extra-time duly arrived. Waterford scored through a penalty from ex-City attacker Ronan Coughlan. City pushed for an equaliser but couldn’t manage one.

That FAI Cup was the season highlight by some distance, reaching the semi-finals only to be beaten by eventual champions St Patrick’s Athletic 2-0. The FAI Cup final took place last weekend and it garnered the ninth highest attendance of any cup final in Europe, which is fantastic. It got a higher attendance than finals in Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark.

Cork City manager Richie Holland was devastated after the match and accused some of the players of not caring enough. The next Cork City FC manager will have a big job getting the club back up to the Premier Division next year.