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Rebels make Derry point

BACK IN the day, Tommy Dunne would head up to the Brandywell with the intent of winning league titles, playing European games -- Dubliner Dunne was a key member of the last Derry City side to win a Premier Division title (1996/97).

When he made the long, long trek north last Friday for the first game of the new League of Ireland season, things were a bit different.

Dunne (37) is the new manager of a new club, Cork City FORAS Co-op (to give them their full title), and glory was in short supply.

Just hours before kick-off in Cork's game away to Derry, the club were officially informed that international clearance had not come through for three of their players, so that left Dunne with his 11 starting players and only two men on the bench.

"It's not ideal, to say the least," Dunne told the Herald after completing the 1,000km round-trip north.

"Playing away to Derry is about the hardest game you could get in this league, but to play that game with such a young squad and with only two subs on the bench, well that's not what you'd call an easy beginning."

But, proof that football is not a science was shown on Friday night as Cork, with their newly-assembled young squad, did not crumble 5-0 in the face of a more experience Derry side but instead took the lead and it needed an equalising goal from the Candystripes to earn the home side a point; a 1-1 draw the final score.

For those who care about football in Cork and worked so hard to make sure that the club survived, the fact that a Cork team even took to the field and had 11 players on Friday night was an achievement. So for Dunne's side to come away from Derry with a point will be seen as a miracle.

That's why Dunne, who has tempor-arily surrendered a life in his adopted home of Finland to take up the Cork job, is trying to balance the satisfaction of Friday's result with a dose of realism about the hard road ahead.

"All credit to the players for what they did on Friday, to come away from Derry with a draw was an amazing result, and it meant a lot to the supporters who travelled all the way to see us," says Dunne.

"But we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep things in perspective. There is no point in people starting to talk about us winning leagues.

"It's going to be very, very hard for the next few games, especially next week when we play Waterford.

"We're at home in that game so the Cork crowd will have expectations, and people need to remember where we have come from.

"We are two or three months behind clubs like Waterford in terms of preparation and build-up to the season.

"I would love to spend this week working with the players we have, improving on last Friday's game and getting ready for the Waterford match.

"But I will probably spend the week on the phone trying to bring in players. We got away with only having two subs on Friday night but we can't sustain that over a few games and a few weeks. I need to get bodies in and that brings its own problems," added Dunne.

The chaos which Dunne, and the fan-based group which is now in charge of Cork, inherited from the disastrous and poisonous ownership of Tom Coughlan was evident in the days building up to the game, when Dunne had to spend almost all of his time on the phone trying to assemble a squad, instead of preparing the players he already had signed up.


The timing of it all hit hard on the day of the game when it was confirmed to Dunne that three of his signings were ineligible.

Samuelle Emiliano had come from Italy, Dubliner Declan Edwards was last with Stockport County while former Cork player Admir Sotic had been on the books of a Danish club, but due to registration issues they would not be eligible for the Derry game, or indeed until the transfer window opens in the summer.

"It's going to be a problem to get in players," says Dunne. "How many out-of-work pros are out there who would be willing to come to Cork to play for €300 a week or so?

"We played some of the younger lads on Friday night, lads like Paul Deasy and Willie Heffernan came in and did very well. I can't fault any one of them, their effort was superb.

"We were lucky on Friday night in that we had a lot of experience at the back and we were able to stand up to Derry when things were tough, but it's going to be very hard over the next few weeks, no doubt about that," added Dunne, who was previously at Cork as assistant manager to Paul Doolin and also managed in Finland.

"When I was at Cork before the club was full-time, now we're part-time and we're looking anywhere we can to get players.

"But the main thing is that Cork had a team in the league this season, people behind the scenes have worked so hard to get us here.

"There's a lot of hard work in the weeks and months ahead. But, do you know what? I am enjoying it."

Cork City team, 1st game of 2010 season

Mark McNulty (29), Ian Turner (20), Dave Rogers(34), Stephen Mulcahy (22), Greg O'Halloran (29), Davin O'Neill (26), Paul Deasy (21), Cillian Lordan (27), Graham Cummins (22), Eoin Forde (20), Willie Heffernan (20).

Cork City team, last game of 2009 season

Mark McNulty (29), Neal Horgan (30), Kevin Long (19), Stephen Mulcahy (22), Greg O'Halloran (29), Dan Murray (27), Cillian Lordan (27), Stephen O'Donnell (24), Davin O'Neill (26), Faz Kuduzovic (25), Billy Dennehy (23).