31 May 2023
By Roger Kennedy
The biggest game in soccer is set firmly on the schedule, Manchester City will face Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League final. Pep Guardiola’s side is looking to secure their maiden triumph, meanwhile, Inter are aiming to extend their existing European pedigree.
The fixture will be closely followed all over the globe, including across Ireland. The city of Cork has historical ties to one of the teams in the final which may leave them hoping for a specific winner of the contest.
Cork’s Stephen Ireland was a City cult hero
Stephen Ireland was born in Cobh, County Cork. He spent his early career at Cobh Ramblers before being signed by City in 2001. He is one of few rare examples of players from Cork making it as established Premier League players.
Happy 36th Birthday, Stephen Ireland! 🥳🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/orEqbqIHbd
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 21, 2022
Irish football fans specifically those from County Cork would have closely followed City’s results in order to keep tabs on their homegrown talent. For many that fondness for City will not have faded, and they will still be supporting City in the modern day. In Champions League winner odds, City are offered at 2/9 to lift the trophy in Istanbul. In a bet on Man City vs Inter they are even offered at 2/5 to finish the job without the need for extra time and penalties.
City are the clear favourites for the contest that is set to take place in Turkey this June. Many County Cork-based football fans will be hoping the game pans out as expected. City is quickly establishing itself as one of the biggest and best clubs in the world, and Ireland was a crucial part of the foundations they set in the 2000s. The midfielder helped put City and his home county on the footballing map. He was a crucial member of the squad prior to Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008
City’s history of Irish players
Aside from Cork’s historical allegiances to City due to Ireland. The entirety of the island nation may have a fondness for the sky blue side due to players of the past. Ireland internationals Richard Dunne and Shay Given also starred for City in the opening decade of the 21st century.
Dunne was the City captain for several years and was perhaps Ireland’s greatest defender of the English Premier League era. City has provided a footballing home for many standout Irish talents over the years, and it would be unsurprising if they have accumulated many fans from all over Ireland as a result.
🗣️Richard Dunne: “If you go through Man City’s squad, there is nobody that Man United, Chelsea, or Liverpool couldn’t afford. Man City have got a plan for how they recruit people, how they do it & what type of player they want for each position. Over a period of 2 years, they’ve… pic.twitter.com/FrTwNxAhV0
— Football Talk (@FootballTalkHQ) May 19, 2023
There is no doubt that a majority of Ireland fans and Cork natives specifically will be backing City over the Italians in the UCL final. City played a major role in the development of County Cork’s very own Stephen Ireland. Ireland’s rock-at-the-back Dunne learned much of his trade at the City of Manchester Stadium. Iconic keeper Given even spent a latter portion of his career in Manchester.
Robbie Keane did experience a short but unsuccessful spell at Inter, but that is unlikely to have left many Irish footballing fans with a strong admiration for the Italian side. It is a fact that most of Ireland’s standout talents of the past few decades have spent significant periods at City.
Cork will certainly be behind the team who developed the county’s greatest footballing export in recent history. There have not been a great number of excellent footballers from County Cork, due to the popularity of other sports such as GAA ahead of football. City helped to change that trend temporarily, and football fans from the region will not have forgotten that.