Cork City’s 12 year wait for the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title came to an end last week as they finally claimed the crown they had waited so long for. They had been runners-up to Dundalk for the past three seasons but a blistering start to this year’s campaign in which they went 23 games unbeaten carried them over the line. And in keeping with their long wait their game against Derry City had been due to be played last Monday but had to be moved to the next day due to Hurricane Ophelia. That storm took its toll on Cork in many ways and the football club wasn’t left unscathed as the roof was buckled on one of their stands. Thanks to the swift intervention of Cork City Council the stand was secured, closed off and the debris cleared and the game was able to go ahead. It was a goal-less draw but that mattered little to the people of Cork as that point was enough to see them crowned Champions. It also meant that Derry are guaranteed to finish in the top four which means they have qualified for Europe. It is a great achievement by a side which came through the tragedy of losing their captain Ryan McBride earlier in the season. So with the title wrapped up along with the European places it meant that it was the relegation battle that took centre stage over the weekend. Cork were away to St. Patrick’s Athletic and Derry to Sligo Rovers. Two of the sides battling to avoid the drop.
Goals from Ryan Delaney and Kieran Sadlier had Cork two up but the home side came back to win 4-2. Jordi Balk, Billy Dennehy, Ian Bermingham and Kurtis Byrne with the goals. Rovers also won beating Derry 3-0 in a wind-swept Showgrounds. Their goals came from Rhys McCabe, Vinny Faherty and Craig Roddan. Those wins mean that Finn Harps have been relwgated. The other side still in the mire are Galway United and they drew 2-2 with Limerick on Friday night. Rodrigo Tosi and Chiedozie Ogbene scored for Limerick with Ronan Murray and Eoin McCormack replying for Galway. Murray also missed a penalty in the game which could prove crucial as going into the last round of games they are third from bottom three points behind Rovers and St. Pat’s. They are at home to Dundalk in their last game, St. Pat’s are away to Derry and Rovers away to the already relegated Drogheda United. There were two other games with Dundalk going down to a surprise 1-0 home defeat against Bohemian FC. Ismahil Akinade with the game’s only goal. There was a lot of speculation during the week regarding the future of their players Dave McMillan and Robbie Benson both of whom are being linked to moves to clubs in the UK. Bray Wanderers were also 1-0 winners in their game against Shamrock Rovers thanks to a goal from Aaron Greene. Such is the nature of life in the League that Greene is heavily linked with a return to Shamrock in the off season!