Cork City kicked off the club’s 30th anniversary just as they began their very first season in 1984, with a home win over Avondale United.
Manager John Caulfield, taking charge of City for the first time, picked a number of new faces in his starting eleven. Trialist Matt Gledhill began the game between the posts for City, while striker Shane Clark, who has also been training with the club, accompanied new signing Anthony Elding up front. There was also a place in the starting team for the returning Billy Dennehy.
City looked bright in the opening exchanges, with the front two of Clark and Elding causing problems for the Avondale defence. Ian Turner cut into the box from his position on the right wing, and stood a nice cross up which Clark headed home (pictured above). Dennehy then threatened the Avondale goal as he cut inside from the left flank and struck a shot which O’Leary did extremely well to tip over. Having opened the scoring, Clark was a constant menace and he threatened again as he met Dennehy’s corner, but his header went over the bar.
Within ten minutes of taking the lead however, City conceded an equaliser. Keeper Gledhill took a heavy touch as he attempted to control a backpass, and Ian Stapleton was on hand to nick the ball away and finish to level the score for Avondale. City were dealt a further blow minutes later as Anthony Elding, who had been limping for a number of minutes, was replaced by Michael Rafter; though manager Caulfield later confirmed that the striker has a dead leg and is expected to return within a matter of days. The remainder of the first half was a far more even affair, with Ian Turner going closest to scoring when his free kick hit the post with O’Leary stranded.
City made a number of changes at half time, with Gledhill, Horgan and Lenihan replaced by McNulty, Murphy and Kavanagh for the second period. The game continued in much the same vein as the latter part of the first half; it was a well-contested game in midfield, but goalmouth action was at a premium. On the hour goalscorer Clark was replaced by Andy O’Connell, but it was his fellow substitute, Rafter, who made the difference as the game wore on. With just over twenty minutes remaining, Danny Murphy surged forward from left back and his cross found Rafter in the penalty area. Despite the attention of a number of defenders, the Tipperary native controlled well, turned to make space and placed a shot into the bottom corner via the post to give City the lead.
Caulfield made a further two changes as the half wore on, with Jason Forde and trialist Akil DeFreitas replacing Turner and Dennehy. Rafter continued to pose a threat, firstly taking on the Avondale defence and shooting over, before then fizzing the ball across the box, with Jason Forde unable to get a touch at the back post. The striker was not to be denied however, and with minutes left on the clock, he struck again. City won a free on the edge of the penalty area, and Rafter stepped up to place the ball into the bottom corner and make the score 2-1 to the home side.
Cork City: Matt Gledhill (Mark McNulty), John Dunleavy (C), Gearóid Morrissey, Colin Healy, Anthony Elding (Michael Rafter), Ian Turner (Akil DeFreitas), Shane Clark (Andy O’Connell), Dan Murray, Brian Lenihan (John Kavanagh), Billy Dennehy (Jason Forde), Neal Horgan (Danny Murphy).
Referee: Keith Callanan