Leaking of pre-contract agreement with Dundalk led to Karl Sheppard staying with Cork City
The leaking of Karl Sheppard’s transfer from Cork City to Dundalk played a pivotal role in the player performing a U-turn in staying at the double winners last month.
Speaking on Game On on 2FM last night, the 26-year-old said he opted out of a move to Dundalk and improved wages because of the situation he was put in when news of his pre-contract agreement was released in the build-up to last month’s FAI Cup final, which Cork won on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Sheppard said he wanted to make the move to Oriel Park to be closer to his Dublin-based girlfriend but admitted he made his mind up before the cup final that he wasn’t going after news of the deal came out.
I was adamant we both said that this can’t come out,” Sheppard said.
“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.
“Going into the cup final, more came out, and it went from bad to worse.
“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’.
“Going into the game there was a massive load of pressure on me. If I was having a bad first half I was off.
“[The players] knew the only reason I was going to sign for Dundalk was the fact that my girlfriend has a little one and she is in Dublin and wouldn’t be able to come up and down to Cork so much.
“That was the only reason I was going to leave. Thankfully that situation has changed.
“I knew going into the cup final I wasn’t leaving. The stress drained out of me after the full-time whistle.”
Asked about the speculation during the pre-match press conference, Kenny said: “I’m not going to put him in an awkward situation but it’s not something I’m going to deny either at this stage. I’m not going to lie to you.”
Sheppard signed a new two year deal with Cork in the days after the final much to the shock of the League of Ireland community but he said he spoke to Stephen Kenny about it before hand and praised him for the manner in which he handled it.
“I made the decision on the Friday. 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 it 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.”