In the final game of the 2011 Airtricity League Division 1 season, Cork City travelled to face Shelbourne with a lot at stake. Shelbourne were the league leaders, two points ahead of City while Monaghan United were two points further back, with the top two sides automatically promoted while the third-placed side would have to take part in a play-off against the side 10th in the Premier Division.
With the game heading towards injury time, Shelbourne and City were tied at 1-1, meaning that both would go up with Shels as champions. Then, City’s number 11 Derek O’Brien crossed from the left for number 9 Graham Cummins to head the winner, sparking delirium. This video probably sums up the situation best.
Cummins and O’Brien were gone by the time the 2012 season kicked off, however, sparking a somewhat pattern which has continued – the number 9 and number 11 at the start of each subsequent season have not been there by the end of the campaign. It’s not much better for number 10 – the wearer of the shirt that night in Tolka Park, Vinny Sullivan, remained for 2012 but he left after that and 10 has been worn by three different players since then.
It’s all a far cry from the decade or so when the club’s joint-top scorers of all-time, the strike partnership of Pat Morley and current manager John Caulfield, were fixtures in numbers 10 and 11, bringing so much joy that we were willing to overlook one of our big beefs. Here, then, is the list of those who have worn 9, 10 and 11 since 2011:
9: Graham Cummins was regularly among the goals in the title-winning season of 2011 and it was only natural that he would attract attention, with a transfer to Preston North End taking him from the club. For 2012, Davin O’Neill moved from 7 to 9 to reflect the fact that he was now more of a striker than a winger but he departed at the end of that season.
Daryl Kavanagh was a high-profile signing at the start of 2013 but things didn’t work out for him and he joined St Patrick’s Athletic midway through the season. Anthony Elding, the scorer of the winner for Sligo Rovers in the FAI Cup final signed for 2014 but he too departed prematurely. John O’Flynn, a distinguished owner of the number 9 in the past, took it upon his re-signing.
10: Vinny Sullivan left after the first season back in the Premier Division in 2012 and the returning Denis Behan, who had worn 21 in his previous stint at the club, took 10 in 2013. It wasn’t a successful reignition of his relationship with the club, though, and he was part of a mid-season cull.
Former Republic of Ireland underage international Michael Rafter signed this year but injury prevented him from playing a competitive minute and his contract is up at the end of the campaign. The number was re-assigned to Cillian Morrison when he signed but he hasn’t featured too heavily in the league.
11: O’Brien’s contract wasn’t renewed after the promotion-winning season, with Cork native Shane O’Connor taking over 11 after he returned home following stints with various clubs in England. He only made five appearances before being released, however. Adam Rundle was one of a raft of new attacking signings for 2013 but he didn’t fare much better in the 11 shirt than O’Connor, playing 12 games and scoring once before departing mid-season with Kavanagh, Behan and Danny Furlong.
Ian Turner had worn 2 since 2010, but had evolved from a right-back to a wide midfielder and sought a new number to reflect that. He struggled to find favour with Caulfield, though, and joined Limerick on loan during the season. Ross Gaynor, signed from Sligo Rovers at the end of July, now wears 11, but, tragically, he does so as a left-back.