Turners Cross – Cork City FC
Photos by Martin McNelis, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Turners Cross Curragh Road Cork, Co. Cork Ireland
Year Opened: 1897
The city of Cork, known as ‘the rebel county,’ is synonymous with sport, from gaelic games to rugby and football. The professional football teams in Cork have had many guises over the generations, from Cork Hibs, Cork Celtic and even a post World War Two side called Cork City. However, the current football team were established in 1984 and are known as ‘the Rebels’ or ‘the Leesiders.’
Throughout their relatively short history, the club have had several homes, from Turners Cross, Flower Lodge (also known as Christy Ring Park), Bishopstown and then back to Turners Cross in 1996. The club also played a European tie against Bayern Munich in 1991 at the local rugby stadium, Musgrave Park, and utilised Shelbourne’s Tolka Park to fulfill a couple of league fixtures that same year too.
Cork City have had notorious and high profile financial issues over the last thirty two years, which came to a head in 2008 as the country’s economic crash bit hard into the football clubs. Cork went into administration (referred to as examinership in Ireland) and were spared going out of business by a supporter-led takeover known as FORAS – Friends of The Rebel Army Society. Despite a temporary reprieve, it wasn’t enough to prevent a court battle which saw the club forced to start in the second tier of Irish football in 2010, but the recovery has been quick and the club now operate on a more sound and secure financial footing.
Boasting some of the best facilities in the League of Ireland, they also play to one of the biggest average attendances. The last two years under manager John Caulfield, himself a former cult hero with the club, have seen the team challenge a dominant Dundalk side, finishing as runners up in the league and cup in 2015. With the current campaign reaching its conclusion they still have the opportunity to right the wrongs of last season.
Turners Cross is situated just over a mile outside the city centre and is nestled in the midst of a modern housing estate. It has been used for both GAA games and football over its 120-plus years. From having mainly grass embankments with an old covered ‘shed,’ a two year modernisation programme was completed in 2009 and leaves it as one of only two stadia in the country with four fully covered all-seater ends, the other being the Aviva Stadium, which is used predominantly for international football and rugby.
The stadium has held some youth fixtures and finals over the years, along with minor international matches. Most notable though is the full international played at Turners Cross in May 2016, as Ireland lost 2-1 to Belarus in a friendly prior to European Championship Finals in France.
Food & Beverage 3
There are a couple of points within the stands for fans to buy food, both hot and cold. All are easily accessible, with reasonable sized queues, though it’s best to avoid going just before half time which is the busiest period.
The popular food ranges from chips at €3, burger & cheeseburger at €4, jumbo hot dog at €4, chicken burger €4 and fish €3.50. Tea, coffee and other soft drink are priced at €2, with cans €1.50 and Lucozade €2.50.
With the four stands occupied, even half full, Turners Cross is a great venue to watch football. Like other League of Ireland clubs there is a very close-knit community link among the supporters. There is an expectancy for the team to deliver without it being a demand or arrogance among fans. There is an evident passion within the crowd, none more so than the ‘Commandos 84’ ultra group who congregate behind the Joe Delaney Stand in what is the most recently-built stand.
The Donie Ford Main Stand is where the majority of the activity is, as this is where you will find the corporate area, media facilities, Police control box and more. It is a popular area with a lot of fans; indeed, it is the designated family section too. There is a small television gantry perched on top of the stand and the players dugouts are on this side. On the left is the St Anne’s Stand which predominantly houses the away supporters with an access turnstile area designated for them.
The league sponsor SSE Airtricity run competitions with selected fans to try and kick the ball through a hole from distance, with prizes being match tickets to a future fixture. There are also youth sides playing four a side with small goals for around ten minutes of the interval.
By and large sitting in any part of Turners Cross provides a decent view of the pitch. If you were to find yourself sitting in the front row of any one of the four stands means you will be at pitch level and maybe not ideal. If the sun is out, which is something of a novelty in Ireland, you may find yourself squinting if you are sitting in the Joe Delaney Stand!
Set among housing a mile from the city centre, there are shops and a couple of pubs literally outside the ground, mainly for home supporters. They are busy, but the service is good and you may be able to get a seat as well.
It is a busy city, but laid back. There are a couple of shopping centres, plenty of bars, cafes, restaurants and some fast food options. The latter is always welcome after a few drinks and watching the football.
Cork City have a passionate fan base, with a lot of flag bearers, singing, drums and occasional pyrotechnics! It can be a colourful and noisy experience and this is pretty much throughout the full ninety minutes.
The club have been playing to an average home gate of just under 3,000, having nearly reached 5,000 for fixtures versus Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers and a near sell out for their Europa League Qualifier against KRC Genk of Belgium.
The stadium is very accessible in terms of getting to it and moving around inside it. The only end that you would struggle to get near would be next to the away fans. If for whatever reason you wanted to sit in a different area, by and large you could find seats in three of the four stands.
The number 203 bus to Ballyphehane stops on Patrick’s Street at a cost of €1.80 and passes right by the ground, while Kent train station is five minutes’ walk from the city centre and there are a couple of taxi ranks en route. Taking the latter option would set you back no more than €10 to Turners Cross.
There is street parking directly outside the ground and around the streets nearby. It can be busy, but the traffic flows away from it with ease. Tickets can be bought online from Ticketmaster.ie and from a couple of designated local shops in the lead up to any home fixture. You can also walk up on the night and buy from the cabins outside the Joe Delaney Stand. This area is well stewarded with minimum fuss trying to enter.
Return on Investment 4
The club run a very fair ticketing policy with adults priced at €15, youths aged between 13-18 at €10 and under 13s and pensioners at €5, making it affordable for all age levels. From the admission cost, programme and prices of food and drink, Cork City offer a good return for your outlay.
The match programme costs €4 and is full colour, great value, an informative read and overall very well produced. The club are also still selling a book about the 2008 collapse and subsequent take over in 2010, called “Death of a Football Club” and written by former player Neal Horgan. It is a very honest account of what was happening behind the scenes, told first hand by an employee affected by the whole situation.
As one of the biggest and best-supported clubs in the country, not to mention the fact it has a full complement of stands, Turners Cross is a recommended visit. The city itself is also steeped in history and a very popular tourist destination.