Club: Cork City
Manager: Neale Fenn
Highest league goalscorer: Alec Byrne (1).
Current position: 10th
How we thought they would do for the 2020 season
2019 was a year of upheaval for the Leesiders as poor early-season form led to the departure of John Caulfield, just over a year after he led the club to a first-ever league and cup double, before Fenn was tempted away from Longford Town in favour of caretaker boss John Cotter in August.
While the former Ireland under-21 international successfully led City to safety, well-documented financial problems at the club meant Fenn went into the season with significant constraints and we expected another seventh-place finish would be about City’s lot.
How they did in the opening part of the season
Not good. An opening day defeat at home to newly-promoted historic rivals Shelbourne was one thing, but a 6-0 thumping from Shamrock Rovers, in which Graham Burke scored five, at Tallaght Stadium was the first sign major cracks were developing.
Defeats away to Dundalk and St Patrick’s Athletic bookended a much-needed win at home to Finn Harps but, most worryingly, City didn’t score in any of their defeats and Alec Byrne’s strike against Harps remains their only goal so far this season.
Moment of the season so far
The win over Harps, purely because there have been no other highlights. With ten goals conceded and none scored in their opening three games, City needed something, anything, to turn their fortune.
That moment arrived before the break as what Alex Kolger thought was his first goal in Irish football was ruled out after much deliberation as it was deemed he had unfairly challenged goalkeeper Liam Bossin.
While Bossin was stretchered off, the call could have gone either way, and City took full advantage as Byrne headed past Mark McGinley in the Harps net to seal a vital three points.
Stand-out player so far this season
It’s strange to name a defender who watched his team ship 11 goals in just five games as the stand-out player but Joseph Olowu has been a rare bright spot in the City team so far this season.
The Arsenal loanee’s assuredness and technical ability have stood out amid the chaos. Fenn’s success in extending the loan through to the end of the year may just be the best bit of business he’ll do all year.
Transfers in/out prior to the restart
In: Graham Cummins (Waterford), Kevin O’Connor (Preston North End), Kit Elliot (Huddersfield Town – loan), Scott Fenwick (Blyth Spartans).
Out: Kyron Stabana (Wimbledon - end of loan), Joe Redmond (Birmingham City – end of loan).
What they need to do in the restart
Start picking up points. With Sligo Rovers picking up their first points of the season in Derry, City are bottom of the table on goal difference. With only 13 games to go, the Rebel Army will have to rediscover the doggedness of the John Caulfield era to eke out points where they’d ordinarily slip away.
Where we see them finishing
Bottom. The win at home to Finn Harps notwithstanding, City will struggle to pick up points. They are rudderless in attack and leaky at the back, and the prospect of a play-off to save their Premier Division skin may not be the worst outcome.
Who will they face in the FAI Cup?
After an unscheduled break in 2019, City will resume their annual FAI Cup battle with Cork City at Turner’s Cross on August 11th.
First post-lockdown league fixture
Home v Bohemians (Sunday, August 2nd).