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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Cork City manager John Caulfield.
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'If something happens, it does and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t' - Caulfield brushes off talk of Maguire move
The Cork City boss was satisfied with their second-half display in Friday night’s win over St Patrick’s Athletic.

THERE WERE TWO notable faces in the crowd to watch Cork City claim their 10th straight Premier Division win on Friday night.

Sat alongside Preston North End manager Simon Grayson was the Championship club’s advisor and former Leeds United chairmain Peter Risdale.

The pair were taking the opportunity to scout Leesiders striker Sean Maguire in the flesh. Preston have seen how dipping into the Irish market can pay off as ex-Dundalk duo Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle are settling in well since moving over last December.

Maguire is currently the most-wanted talent in the League of Ireland and although he didn’t score against St Patrick’s Athletic, the 22-year-old did provide two assists.

Cork boss John Caulfield may have to come to terms with losing his prized asset when the summer transfer window re-opens, but he was in no mood to look that far ahead after their latest win.

“What I anticipate is getting the boys in tomorrow morning and getting our focus on for a massive match on Friday night,” replied Caulfield, when asked the visit from Grayson and Risdale.

“I’ve already spoken about that last week. There are three months to go until July. If something happens, it does and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I can’t do anything about it. I just have to keep everyone focused and make sure we’re ready for a massive game next Friday night.”

Peter Ridsdale with Simon Grayson Tommy Dickson / INPHO Preston North End manager Simon Grayson and Peter Risdale were there to watch Sean Maguire on Friday night. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Pat’s frustrated Cork for large parts of the first half, and it wasn’t until a fortuitous own goal that the visitors really began to stamp their authority on the game — scoring two more late on through Karl Sheppard and Garry Buckley.

“From our point of view, St Pat’s played well, kept the ball well but at the same time we’d one great move where Sheppard missed a chance in the first half,” added Caulfield.

“He should have scored and that might have opened up the game and Ryan Delaney had a header at the back post but, overall, in the first half, St Pat’s had a lot of the play.

“They controlled the game to that extent so at half-time we weren’t happy with how we had gone but as I keep saying there’s a determination, resilience and a spirit.

In the second half, we knew we needed to up the tempo, start moving the ball more quickly. Okay, we had a fortunate first goal but, overall, we upped the intensity in the second half. We were on the front foot and in the second half we were much better.

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“Maguire did brilliantly for the second goal — he put Shep in. We felt he [Maguire] was taken down in the box, we’ll see. Kevin O’Connor hit the post as well. Overall in the second half we created a lot of chances, it was more like ourselves, we played at a higher intensity and we looked much better.”

Gary Buckley celebrates scoring a goal with teammates Tommy Dickson / INPHO The Cork City players celebrating Garry Buckley's goal. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Early in the second half, Cork lost their skipper Alan Bennett to a hamstring injury and his absence could be a worry — although John Dunleavy came on and provided more than adequate cover.

“Alan’s hamstring was tight and he came off,” said Caulfield. “He’s a huge player for us to lose but Johnny Dunleavy comes in and that’s where you show your resilience — when you lose key players, someone can come in and take their place.

“That’s very, very important. Maybe some other years we mightn’t have had that cover but this year we have players to come in who want to play every week and it kept us strong and defensively solid.”

Now nine points clear at the top of the table after 10 matches, next Friday’s fixture list pits the leaders against second-placed Bray Wanderers.

The Seagulls, who saw off Shamrock Rovers 4-2 this week, have looked like they could yet prove to be Cork’s main title challengers this season and the meeting will be an interesting contrast of styles.

If you look at the second half of their season last year, they were on a phenomenal run and Harry [Kenny] has been underestimated,” Caulfield said of the Wicklow men. “With Liam [O'Brien], they’re two very shrewd guys who know the league inside out.

“Crucially, they kept [Dylan] Connolly and brought in some key players like Gary McCabe and Aaron Greene to give more attacking options to their team so based on their second-half performance last season it wasn’t a surprise.

“They felt they were in with a good shout this year and they’re proving that. It’s great for them and I suppose we know what we have to do next week because they’re scoring lots of goals and it’s going to be a massive challenge for us.”

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