Just days after Cork beat Dundalk to win this season's FAI Cup, Karl Sheppard ended speculation about his future by signing a new two-year deal at Turner's Cross.
The Cork City striker had been linked with a move to Dundalk. In fact, it was a lot more than a link, Sheppard had signed a pre-contract agreement with the club.
In the build-up the cup final, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny was asked about the prospect of Sheppard becoming a Dundalk player, it was a possibility he refused to deny.
On Wednesday night, Sheppard spoke to 2FM's Game On and addressed the circumstances surrounding his mooted move to Dundalk.
Sheppard said that he and Kenny had spoken before the cup final and were both in agreement that word regarding the move should not come out until after the cup final. Leaks ensured that did not happen.
I was adamant we both said that this can’t come out.
I signed a bit before the cup final. We were both in the semis. I said if we both get through, I can’t have this coming out, or if it is into the last week of the season. I could lose out on a place in the cup final team, or it could throw me massively. It was a very bad week for me and a stressful time.
Ten days from the cup final, we had lifted the league trophy and to be honest, there was a small section and I’d say very small, maybe 15 people in the Cork end that were actually booing me. This stuff [speculation] was seeping out. People were giving me a bit of abuse. We were lifting the trophy in front of the Shed and I thought, you know what, I’ll let it off. I didn’t want to take away from what was happening on the pitch that day.
Ahead of the FAI Cup decider at the Aviva, Sheppard said that "it went from bad to worse" as more information seeped out about his transfer.
"John [Caulfield] had a meeting with the players on the Thursday, sat everyone around and said, ‘look lads, we need to address the elephant in the room. Shep, it seems, is leaving us. He’s been great, but I trust him to do the business on Sunday’."
The 26-year-old's reason for wanting to leave Cork was personal: he wanted to be closer to his girlfriend who lives in Dublin with her child. That situation has since changed.
Sheppard said that the stress 'drained out of him at the final whistle' of the cup final. He knew that he was going to be staying in Cork having made the decision to do so two days previously.
On the Tuesday after the cup final, Sheppard's new deal with Cork was announced. A day previous, he called Stephen Kenny to relate the reasons for his decision.
Sheppard told Kenny that he felt he could not trust him after rumours had leaked about the move to Dundalk.
I spoke to Stephen the day before I signed back with Cork. I said to him, ‘look Stephen, I think you went against what we spoke about'.
He said that he didn’t want it to come out that way, that it wasn’t his intention in not denying it. I said that if we had one agreement, I couldn’t really trust you then if you went against it. In fairness to him he’s quite a nice guy and he took it very well. He apologised if it came across that way. I was expecting a bit of abuse down the phone, but he is a nice guy and was good about it.
I’m delighted to be back at Cork. I could have made a good bit more money going to Dundalk.