Remembering the last time Dundalk and Cork City clashed in a league decider

23 years ago, the clubs were tied at the top of the table when they met in the final fixture of the campaign.

McNulty is hugged by team-mates after scoring.
McNulty is hugged by team-mates after scoring.
Image: YouTube screengrab

TONIGHT SEES THE top two teams  in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division lock horns with the title on the line.

Leaders Cork City, who hold a one-point lead at the top  going into the final game of the season, travel to a sold-out Oriel Park only needing a draw to claim a second league championship in the club’s history.

It’s not the first time the clubs have been in this situation. Back in 1991, 10,000 fans crammed into Turner’s Cross for a league decider with the Rebels and the Lilywhites level on 50 points.

Current Cork boss John Caulfield had a couple of half-chances and Dave Barry wasn’t too far away with his free-kick from the edge of the box, while Terry Eviston headed Dundalk’s best chance of the first half over the bar.

With the game on a knife edge, Mick Skelly claimed possession for Dundalk before Eviston offl0aded to Gino Lawless. Here’s goalscorer Tom McNulty describing it in his own words…

“We had been pressing Cork all afternoon all over the midfield and I think Mick Shelly won the ball and it broke. Gino took it on and put it through Mick Conroy’s legs.

“I ran onto it from the middle of the pitch, straight through the Cork defence to slot the ball under the goalkeeper and into the corner of the net.”

Source: DFCTV/Vimeo

McNulty nearly got in for a second but was snuffed out by a fine interception from Liam Murphy and full-back Dave Mackey shot just wide after a strong run from full-back. With the final whistle looming, Mick Conroy forced Alan O’Neill into a terrific save but the single goal proved enough for Dundalk to clinch victory and the title for the eighth time.

“It was a fabulous occasion,” McNulty told Colm Corrigan LMFM this week. “Everybody remembers their first league medal. It was mine and one that I cherished dearly.

I can always remember the day that the support we had down in Turner’s Cross was unbelievable. The trip back on the train was probable the best three hours I’ve ever spent — people singing and champagne flowing.

“It was great to see the buzz and everybody really happy. The players that I played with were absolutely fantastic. It was only reminded to me the other day that Alan O’Neill had 23 clean sheets in that season. We conceded 17 goals and five of them were in the first game.”

After the final whistle, Dundalk boss Turlough O’Connor praised the runners-up.

“It has been a tremendous league — one of the best leagues for a long time,” O’Connor said. “I think Cork City made it such and it was a tremendous achievement from our fellas to come here and win it on their own ground. ”

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“A lot of people felt that it would have been nice to have the league come back to Cork,” added Cork manager Noel O’Mahony.

“It’s been so long since anything of any consequence has happened down here and getting as near as we did today is a bit heartbreaking.”

Cork would hold the mighty Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw later that year but they would have to wait until 1993 before winning the League of Ireland for the first time.

Watch highlights of the game:

Source: killianm2/YouTube

17 signs you’re a hardcore Dundalk fan

‘Games like this are the reason we play football’ – Cork City’s Donegal man Dunleavy

About the author:

Ben Blake

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