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Caulfield: Dundalk playing in Russia less than 72 hours before FAI Cup final is no disadvantage

The Cork City boss is hoping to guide the Leeside club to their first FAI Cup final win since 2007.

Cork City manager John Caulfield
Cork City manager John Caulfield
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

CORK CITY MANAGER John Caulfield doesn’t feel that his side’s FAI Cup final hopes will benefit too much from Dundalk’s Europa League commitments.

The Rebel Army will attempt to win the cup for the first time since 2007, and stop Dundalk achieving a second successive double in the process, at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday (3.40pm).

Dundalk are away to Zenit St Petersburg tomorrow night, but, while Caulfield is optimistic of his side’s chances, he expects the Lilywhites to be able to deal with the workload.

“I don’t think it’s any disadvantage for Dundalk being in Russia, they’ll still bring their A-game,” he says.

“The league was won two weeks ago, they’ve been able to rest players, playing two games in four days will mean nothing to them because they’re professional players.

“Dundalk have been phenomenal, Stephen Kenny has been in the league 14, 15 years and has won things with Bohs and Derry, they deserve all the accolades they get.

“But our lads have been good. People dwell on the fact that we got there last year but if you look at the team playing on Sunday, there’ll be at least six changes.

“We rebuilt this year because we realised we needed to get to a higher level and we have got to that higher level.

“These lads did phenomenally for myself, the management and the supporters, getting further than ever in Europe and pushing Dundalk right to the end and we’re in the cup final.

John Caulfield and Stephen Kenny John Caulfield and Stephen Kenny after last year's FAI Cup final Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“It’s unusual that you can bring in so many players and hit the ground running, but that’s what the lads have done.

“While Dundalk deserve everything they get and all the accolades, we have an opportunity on Sunday to win the cup and that’s what we’ve been working at all week.”

In terms of trying to win the game, Caulfield feels that the midfield battle will be telling.

“Both teams play similarly and if you control midfield you’ll have more possession and you can attack; otherwise you’re on the back foot,” he says.

“The games we have beaten them, we’ve done that. The game two weeks ago, they did it in the first half and they were 2-0 up.

“There are other battles on the pitch, but you have to get a grip and dominate midfield, otherwise you won’t win the match.”

Garry Buckley, who has a hamstring injury, and Mark O’Sullivan (knee) are Caulfield’s two main worries. While John Kavanagh has returned to action after missing most of the season with a knee problem, he is still lacking match-sharpness.

Stephen O'Donnell and Garry Buckley Garry Buckley in action for Cork City against Dundalk's Stephen O'Donnell. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“In all the time I’ve known Mark, non-league and everything, he’s never injured,” Caulfield says.

“It is a concern that he came off last Friday (against Bray) and hasn’t trained. Garry’s been out about two weeks and we’d hope to have him back training before the end of the week. We’re going to have to see how they are.

“Kav, to be fair to him, it has come too quickly. At least he knows in his head that he’ll be alright for next year.”

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Denis Hurley

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