The 1990-91 season would prove to be a pivotal one for Cork City Football Club, as it experienced its first real title challenge, and even if it did fall agonisingly short, the foundations were laid for what would be a first league victory two seasons later. The strong finish to 1989-90 was carried into the new campaign, with a 0-0 draw in a pre-season friendly with Manchester United at Musgrave Park helping to boost spirits.
In all, City would go 20 league games unbeaten from the start of the season, the strikeforce of Pat Morley and John Caulfield clicking to great effect while a defence of Declan Daly, Paul Bannon, Fergus O'Donoghue and Philip Long was very mean, with Phil Harrington a solid last line behind them. One notable kit change at the start of the season was that the green shorts were replaced by white ones, while the long-sleeved shirts now carried the extra adidas logos (top left).
Green shorts returned before too long though and soon after that white socks began to be used (middle left). For the trip to Oriel Park to face Dundalk in a top-of-the-table clash on November 11, a 1-1 draw, a brand-new away kit was worn (top right). A green-and-red striped shirt with narrow white pinstripes and white collar similar to those on O'Neills GAA jerseys, it was a real departure, with the use of black logos questionable. For whatever reason, the Dundalk game would be the only time that City would wear the strip, but the following week Dundalk themselves wore it - back then the league featured repeat fixtures at the end of the first round of games - as they failed to bring an away kit to Turner's Cross. That game also finished 1-1.
On New Year's Day, City (by now wearing long-sleeved shirts without the adidas sleeve logos, far left) came very close to losing their unbeaten record as only a last-minute Philip Long equaliser prevented them losing at home to Derry City (this was the website's creator's first league game). Three weeks later, however, the record would be gone, and in comprehensive fashion, as Shamrock Rovers recorded a 4-0 win at the RDS, a game in which a different away kit was worn by City.
Perhaps the striped kit couldn't be worn due to the high volume of green, but whatever the reason was, City ran out in shirts that were mainly red but which also featured a very abstract white pattern (bottom right), as if a plain red jersey had been visited by a family of pigeons that had had laxatives for dinner. Oddly, green shorts and white socks were used, possibly due to City bringing them in the hope that the home kit could have been used, as happened in 89-90.
Thankfully, the heavy defeat didn't result in a collapse of form on the part of Noel O'Mahony's side as they continued to challenge, though their FAI Cup campaign did come unstuck at the first hurdle as David Tilson scored a hat-trick at Turner's Cross to give Bohemians a 3-2 extra-time win. The next time City would encounted the Phibsborough side, in the league at Dalymount Park on April 1, the white shorts and green socks returned for one game only, an odd choice given that Bohs had white shorts themselves that season. Going into the final game at home to Dundalk, the two sides were level on points, making it effectively a cup final as a draw would have resulted in a replay. The Co. Louth side, having remembered to bring their red away strip, took the honours, however, as Tom McNulty's goal gave them a 1-0 win, leaving City empty-handed.