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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

Cork City's elder statesman basking in the glory after hitting incredible 147

“It was a matter of time. We knew we were going to win the league,” said goalkeeper Mark McNulty.

Cork celebrate in the dressing room after winning The SSE Airtricity League The Cork City players celebrate after wrapping up the league title last night. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

AS HIS TEAM-MATES headed for the bars of the city centre to get last night’s party started, Mark McNulty was homeward bound.

Cork City had finally won their first SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title in 12 years. McNulty was jubilant, but the Ballincollig native was putting his family first. After all, they had stood by him in the days when there was little to celebrate.

“When we were going through the bad times, it was myself, my wife and the children at home and it was tough,” City’s goalkeeper said. “There was no wages coming in but she stood behind me through the bad times when we weren’t really being paid much.”

In the squad crowned 2017 champions thanks to last night’s goalless draw with Derry City at Turner’s Cross, McNulty was the only player who was present when Cork City FC was rescued from extinction in 2010 by the club’s supporters.

“Obviously these are the good times so I have to thank my wife and my kids because they’ve been outstanding for me. The boys are celebrating now and I’m getting into the car and going up to see my wife and my kids, to give them a little hug and send them to bed. Then maybe I’ll go out and enjoy myself afterwards.”

McNulty, who turned 37 last Friday, was the Premier Division’s oldest player until Dave Mulcahy (39) joined Drogheda United in August. His remarkable run continued last night as he played his 147th consecutive league game, having not missed one since June 2013.

Mark McNulty Veteran Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

With two games to spare, Cork City are now Premier Division champions for the first time since 2005. McNulty, who has kept 15 clean sheets in 31 league games this season, was also involved with the successful side 12 years ago as a deputy for Michael Devine.

“It was a matter of time,” he said. “We knew we were going to win the league. We didn’t want to come out and say that, we just kept playing it down, but we knew we were going to win it, whether it be by one point or 20 points. We knew we were going to win the league and thankfully tonight we’ve done that.”

After Cork City’s FAI Cup final win against Dundalk last November, McNulty ruffled a few feathers with a rant over the microphone during the celebrations in Soho Bar in Cork. However, last night he paid tribute to their rivals ahead of their meeting in another cup decider at the Aviva Stadium on 5 November.

“People gave me grief last year for having a little pop in a speech in Soho one night, but I have to say, huge credit to Dundalk because they’ve pushed us all the way,” McNulty said. “They’ve made us work. That’s what makes it so satisfying, that we got over that line, knowing there was a team waiting behind us in case we slipped up.”

He added: “I know people think it’s been a long time coming because we’ve been so far ahead, but it’s difficult to get over the line. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Dundalk. They pushed us all the way. They’re a great side. We can’t wait to lock horns with them again now in the cup final. But at the moment everyone in the dressing room is absolutely buzzing.”

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‘I’ve never seen anything like the scenes after the game’

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Paul Dollery

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