Cork entered the league in 1984; Derry followed a year later. Derry beat Cork in the 1989 FAI Cup final. In 2005, Cork pipped Derry to the Premier Division crown in the last game of the season.
In 2009, though, it all went pear-shaped for both clubs.
Derry were demoted for contract irregularities. Cork, in financial chaos, followed them down ahead of the 2010 season. Shortly before Easter 2010, Cork rose again, resurrected at Turner’s Cross.
The Cork club’s current administrator Eanna Buckley remembers manic times: “It was hectic. From the second half of the 2009 season was torture. You weren’t getting paid you were going into office every day but the walls were coming in around us.”
Eventually, the club, after months of wrangling, was wound up before the start of the 2010 season. Fans group Cork City FORAS (Friends of the Rebel Army) Co-op were granted a licence for the First Division. FORAS brought Buckley on board. “I said, ‘Look if there’s a job great, if not I’ll be on dole anyway so if I can do anything let me know” — on an initial three-month deal.
“We were basically pressing the reset button and rebuilding the club from scratch in the space of 10 days,” says Buckley. “We had a gang who practically didn’t sleep for two weeks. We were fortunate to have great people involved —the right people in right places at the right time and managed to get everything over the line with a groundswell of support from people who wanted to take control, having seen the club being dragged backwards through a hedge by various people in the previous two years.”
Now all that was needed was a manager and a team. Tommy Dunne accepted the City hot seat. On March 5, 2010, they faced their first game against Derry City at the Brandywell.
“We tried to bring in a few players: an Italian lad called Samuel Emilano, Admir Softic had come back to play and we were trying to sign a player called Declan Edwards from Stockport,” says Buckley.
The international clearance for the three players was refused and Cork ended with only two players on the bench on their return to football: former youth team players Wesley Tong and John Dinneen. The Candystripes were also starting afresh in the First Division. Goalkeeper Gerard Doherty is the only survivor from that fateful night.
“It was a big thing when Stephen Kenny decided to stay at the club for that season,” recalls Doherty. “He decided the best thing to do for the club was to go local.”
All of the Derry players — bar beloved striker Mark Farren from Donegal, who died last year — hailed from Derry. A young James McClean was also making waves on Foyleside. On the night, Cork’s rag-tag stars took a shock lead through Davin O’Neill but Derry debutant Emmett Friars equalised. Points shared. History shared.
Tonight they meet with both sides chasing a third league title. “We’re two clubs on the up,” says Doherty. “Long may that continue.”
The Corkman became a goalscoring favourite with the City faithful, in two highly productive seasons with the Leesiders. Named the PFAI First Division Player of the Year at the end of the season. A year later he scored a 94th-minute winner to wrench the First Division title from Shelbourne to end 2011 season. Joined Preston in 2012 and has enjoyed cross-channel success with Rochdale and Exeter and is now plying his trade in Scotland with St Johnstone.
A City underage star along with his brother Cathal, became club captain that 2010 season. Left club for work opportunity in Netherlands in 2011. Now a senior manager at IT firm Solar Winds in Cork.
The Ballincollig man is the only survivor of this team still playing with Cork City. SWAI goalkeeper of the year last season. Made his 123rd consecutive appearance against Limerick.
Went on to become part of the First Division title-winning side. Spent a season on loan at Waterford before returning to Midleton in the Munster Senior League, going on to become club manager.
Joined Cork City from Cobh and in 2009 and re-signed for the club when FORAS took over. Scored the first goal of the new era at the Brandywell that night. Left CIty in 2013. Works at the Naval Dockyard in Haulbowline. U17 Coach at Cobh Ramblers.
The former Shelbourne star played 15 games for City before leaving during the season for Limerick. Now managing DSK Shivajians Football Club in the I-League in India, whose squad includes former Ireland U21 and St Pat’s League of Ireland midfielder Shane McFaul.
A former City youth stalwart, now captain of Lakewood AFC in the Cork AUL Premier.
Went on the win First Division title with City the following season. Had a loan spell at Limerick in 2014 and moved to the midwest on a permanent deal in 2015. Moved back to City in 2016 but last December re-signed for Limerick FC. Played against City at the Markets Field last month.
A winner of an FAI Youth Cup with Cork City. Now playing with College Corinthians in the Munster Senior League.
A title winner with Cork CIty in 2005 and Shelbourne in 2006, the former Ireland U21 acted as assistant manager to Tommy Dunne that season. Part of the team that earned promotion the following season. Captained the club before leaving in 2012. Later took managerial roles at Crosshaven and Carrigaline.
The Ringmahon man came up from the City youths and stepped up for the opening game of the FORAS era. Currently playing his football with Ringmahon in the Munster Senior League.
John Dineen, Wesley Tong
Brought back to Foyleside in 2008 from The New Saints in the Welsh League, has played more than 250 games since for Derry. Doherty has inherited the club’s captain’s armband following the death of Ryan McBride.
Played more than 300 games for Derry in a distinguished career on Foyleside, picking up two FAI Cup League medals along the way. One of the leaders of the Derry side, he finished his senior career with spells in the Irish League at Glenavon and Bangor.
Joined Derry from Newry. After winning First Division title with the Candystripes moved back to the Irish League with Dungannon Swifts, along with his brother Sean who had also previously played for Derry. Much travelled defender now with Crusaders in the North.
Another giant in this Derry side, playing 326 games before joining Crusaders in 2014 after more than a decade with Derry. Injuries hampered spell there but joined Finn Harps last season and opted to stay for this camaign at Ballybofey too.
Played for Derry over three different spells. Moved cross-channel to Tranmere after winning First Division title. Spent four seasons at Bristol Rovers before leaving last month.
Signed by Stephen Kenny, McEleney would be a star of the Candystripes that promotion-winning season. Left Derry in 2015 to link up with Kenny again, at Dundalk, where he is enjoying a stellar season
The former Republic of Ireland U19 international midfielder stayed on with Derry until 2012, when he signed for Coleraine. Now playing with Cliftonville.
Finished the First Division’s top scorer that year even though he was battling a brain tumour. Went on to become the Candystripes all-time top scorer with 114 goals.Left for Glenavon in 2013. The Donegal man died of cancer in February 2016. Derry have retired the No.18 jersey in his honour.
The powerful winger was already making a name for himself in the Derry set-up. Steve Bruce brought him to Sunderland in 2011 for £350,000 and has gone on to play for Wigan and is now enjoying success at West Brom as well as being an integral part of the Ireland squad.
The former Cliftonville striker left Derry City in mid-season after falling out of favour with Stephen Kenny. Now a personal fiteness trainer in Derry.
Signed for Derry on a one-year deal from Institute. Scoltock later returned to Institute and is their current vice-captain.