The National Football Exhibition officially opened at St. Peter’s North Main Street, Cork on Thursday night in what is the second of seven countrywide stops on the road to Dublin hosting four UEFA European Championship Finals games in June 2020.
Local contributors, including Eddie Foley, the first Irish referee to officiate at a FIFA World Cup in 1998, Cork Historian Plunket Carter, the Munster Football Association and local clubs were all in attendance. Local collector Denis Forde also brought along the match ball from the 1926 Free State Cup Final between Fordsons and Shamrock Rovers.
The event was opened by Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork City Council, Councillor Thomas Maloney who said: “Having the Exhibition here at St. Peter’s in the heart of the city makes it so accessible for everybody in the city and county of Cork. We are hoping that everybody from all over Cork will come in, look at all the memorabilia on show. It is fantastic to have it in the heart of the city.”
Deputy Mayor of Cork County Council, Councillor Joe Harris spoke about his love of football and its impact in Cork.
FAI CEO John Delaney thanked Cork City Council for making funding available for two new Football in the Community Development Officers in the City and Cork County Council for their continued support of the Centre of Excellence in Glanmire with Cork City and the FORAS Trust. Delaney also thanked the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport, Dublin City Council and the Local Organising Structure for their support in making the Exhibition a reality.
Republic of Ireland legend Ray Houghton was in attendance and spoke glowingly of his time in Cork and love for the European Championships. Houghton, who attended the Exhibition in Dublin last December, was delighted to see it with some added Cork flavour in the local zone.
“Coming back to visit in Cork really brings home the nationwide element of the National Football Exhibition. It is fantastic to see so many young people in attendance and it is so important for them to learn about the game and tournaments of old. Having four European Championship final games in Dublin is a great way to showcase the country and hospitality we are so well recognised for,” said Houghton.
The Exhibition remains open in Cork until March 24 and has already welcomed almost 1,000 visitors including schools and local clubs. More information is available in the National Football Exhibition App which is available to download now.