And so on to what would prove to be one of the most memorable and historic of all of Cork City's seasons, one which would end with a first league title for the club but not without numerous twists and turns along the way, both on and off the field.
During the previous campaign, plans had been announced for the club to move to a new purpose-built stadium in the western suburb of Bishopstown, with a slick prospectus produced featuring an artist's impression of a modern all-seater facility. It was used for pre-season friendlies against Chelsea and Celtic but was derided by the latter's manager Liam Brady as being little more than a building site and he was right - with no dressing rooms, players had to change at the nearby ESB Sports Club.
While ground had been broken on the building of a new stand, it would not be ready until the start of the following season, and unsurprisingly the FAI refused to allow it to be used for early-season games. After beginning their league campaign with a convinving win away to Sligo Rovers, however, City's first 'home' league game, Cobh Ramblers' St Colman's Park, was a disappointing 4-1 defeat with - inevitably - Dave Tilson scoring twice. The next five league games were all won before a 6-2 loss to Shelbourne, in which Phil Harrington was sent off, but the side were still well in the title race. The kit was almost identical to that in which they finished the previous season, with the only smalle change being that numberless shorts were now being worn (top left).
On the October Bank Holiday weekend, though, the home game with Shamrock Rovers on the Sunday (a 2-0 win in which Pat Morley and centre-back-turned-striker Paul Bannon scored) saw City wearing new shorts and socks (below left). The design of the shorts, which were the first to carry the club crest, now matched the design of the shirt, while the socks carried the newer adidas logo but were otherwise unchanged.
The following day Bannon scored again in a 1-1 draw away to Limerick, a game notable for Harrington having to go off injured and be replaced by sub Len Downey, and City continued to stay in contention, leading the table by a point from Bohemians, Shelbourne and Derry City as the new year dawned. In the 3-2 away win against Rovers on January 10 the red away shirts with white sleeves were worn with white shorts and red socks (second from top on right). It had also been worn in the loss to Dundalk in November (top right), but a long overdue change would finally arrive by the time of the next trip to Dundalk in March. The traditional red was still the dominant colour but a new adidas design, first seen at Euro 92, was worn, initially with the home shorts and socks (right).
By this stage, City had exited the FAI Cup, losing 2-1 to Shelbourne after an extra-time replay before succumbing by the same score to the same opposition in the league four days later. With the league having split into two groups of six for the first time, games were running out and with two matches left Bohemians led the table by two points after they had beaten City 2-0 at Dalymount Park. City were in fouth place but a win over fellow challengers Derry gave them hope and in the final game they triumphed 3-0 at home to Limerick while Bohs lost away to Dundalk, Tom McNulty atoning for his 1991 league-winning goal by ensuring City would be in a play-off for the title with Bohs and Shels, all three sides having finished on 40 points with Dundalk on 39 and Derry on 37. It was the last season of two points for a win, and if it had been three points City would have already won the title.
The three-way play-off saw the sides play each other home and away, a Pat Morley goal giving City a 1-0 win over Bohs in the first match, and just a day later they had to play Fermoy in the Munster Senior Cup final at Turner's Cross. The 3-1 win was not especially noteworthy for the game itself, but it did provide another colour combination as the new red away shirt was worn with green shorts. Back in league action, the play-off saw the sides ending level on four points after a win, two draws and a loss each, so another play-off was required, the sides playing each other once at neutral venues. In the opener at Turner's Cross, a customary goal from Morley gave City a 1-0 win over Bohs, meaning that victory over Shels at the RDS would be enough for a first title. May 22, 1993 will live long in the memory of City fans as goals from Morley (penalty), Dave Barry and Bannon gave City a 3-2 victory amid joyous scenes. The following Thursday, Shelbourne and Bohemians met to decide second place and...who cares, City won the league and that was all that mattered.