Mark McNulty has seen it all, done it all and won it all with Cork City. The goalkeeper is first and foremost a fan of the club.
Even the most hardened and biased fan, sporting the colours of another League of Ireland club can muster up some happiness when they see a fan of the league, have success with the club he has supported.
McNulty is that man, since arriving at Turners Cross in 2003 he has given everything for that club. He’s shared the pain of relegation, the elation of promotion and the unbridled joy of clinching the title.
Having gone close in 2016, 2015 and 2014 it was good to see Caulfield lead Cork to the title, even though their greatest rivals had to cope with the loss of key players once again in the off-season, nothing can be taken away from Cork, they are deserved and worthy champions.
McNulty’s actions while celebrating though would go a long way to extinguish the good will that will come from neutrals.
“F*** the lilywhites, they’re f****** s***,” he roared on stage in a local Cork pub while celebrating their SSE Airtricity League title success.
For all the good things McNulty has done between the sticks for Cork, it was disappointing to see how sour he was in celebrating their success.
The rivalry between Cork and Dundalk has been a joy to behold, they don’t like each other. They don’t have to, but like them or not Stephen Kenny and his players have earned respect.
McNulty’s disdain for Dundalk is not new, after winning the FAI Cup last year the keeper hit out at the perceived slight of Cork’s achievements being overshadowed.
“There's wasn't one fucking pundit in this country that gave us a chance”. He said speaking at the same bar, almost a year ago.
“Everyone's saying Dundalk this Dundalk that. They're doing well in Europe. We went three fucking rounds in Europe! There's no one saying anything about fucking Cork!”
The remarks left Stephen Kenny disappointed and feeling disrespected. He accused McNulty of insulting every player associated with Dundalk past and present, in an interview with 98FM’s League of Ireland podcast the Dubliner said:
“When there is rivalry amongst teams I do think the nature of rivalry is teams don’t have to like each other, but there has to be a sporting respect.
“I think he has insulted everyone connected to the football club and any players who’ve played in the past some of the great players Tommy McConville, Barry Kehoe. It’s very insulting to those players and their spirit.
“I think that kind of stuff doesn’t do the game any good.”
The lack of grace and sportsmanship from their Leeside rivals is not an isolated incident according to Kenny, he claims that his captain Stephen O’Donnell received a phone call taunting Dundalk after the 2016 FAI Cup final, which Cork City won 1-0.
“It’s not the first time, we had phone calls to Stephen O’Donnell on the bus shouting down the phone after the final, and certainly he’s been a great captain, one of the great captains of modern era. There’s a lack of respect there and I think that’s very disappointing.
“If it was a one off incident you could maybe say ‘ye that’s alright its a one off’ but it’s been repeated several times, obviously the manager doesn’t seem to mind if that’s the case and that’s what’s disappointing.”
McNulty’s words “fuck the lilywhites, they’re fucking shit” will no doubt be fresh in the minds when the sides meet in the 2017 FAI Cup final.
Dundalk have represented their town and the country with distinction in Europe, their Europa League exploits in 2016 demonstrated that a well organised, perfectly condition team from these shores can be competitive in Europe.
McNulty is not an 18-year-old kid who knows no better, he is a 37-year-old veteran of the league; he’s a leader on the pitch. The example he has set, is a bad one.
Dundalk deserved more; there is no grey area, McNulty’s remarks were crass and disrespectful. Nobody likes to see sore losers, even worse though is a sour winner.