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'Anyone who thought they were a one-man team hadn't a clue' - Cork praise for rivals Dundalk

Their differences have been put to one side for now.

Cork City's Greg Bolger (right) challenging Dundalk's John Mountney at Turner's Cross earlier this season.
Cork City's Greg Bolger (right) challenging Dundalk's John Mountney at Turner's Cross earlier this season.
Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

CORK CITY MANAGER John Caulfield and captain Greg Bolger have paid tribute to Dundalk on the back of their stunning triumph in the Champions League.

The Louth side recorded a 3-0 second-leg win over BATE Borisov last night to progress to the play-off stages of Europe’s premier club competition — an unprecedented feat for an Irish side.

They may be battling against each other on the domestic front for the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title — second-placed City trail the leaders by six points and have a game in hand — but that hasn’t stopped the Leesiders from acknowledging the extent of what Dundalk have achieved in Europe.

At a press conference in Cork this afternoon to preview their sold-out Europa League clash with KRC Genk at Turner’s Cross tomorrow night, Caulfield made a point of beginning by complimenting Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny and his players.

“Just before we start, I’d like to congratulate Stephen Kenny and the Dundalk lads,” said Caulfield, who has guided his team to three victories over Dundalk this season after finishing second to them in the table in the last two years, as well as in the 2015 FAI Cup final.

Not only was it a historic night, it was an incredible achievement by them. Our league can be mocked at times, but it just shows the quality they had to beat BATE — and more importantly, the way they beat them and how they beat them so well. It’s great for the league, it’s great for the image and it just shows the potential that’s in our league.”

The Cork City boss also pointed out that the win was proof that Dundalk weren’t as dependent on Richie Towell as people had previously believed. Towell, the Lilywhites’ top scorer and star performer in 2015, departed for Brighton at the end of last season.

Caulfield: “Anyone who thought they were a one-man team for the last two years hadn’t a clue, as I had been constantly saying. They had a lot more about them than one player for the last two years. It’s a great credit to them so I just wish them well.

“It was fantastic for any person that was involved with the League of Ireland and puts their life and soul into the League of Ireland. It was a great night for any supporter or player last night because they got tremendous coverage out of the win, which they deserved. It’s a great boost for everyone.”

inpho_00982799 John Caulfield congratulates Dundalk in their dressing room after last season's FAI Cup final. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Despite the possibility of Dundalk’s substantial financial rewards increasing the gap between them and the League of Ireland’s chasing pack, Caulfield’s sentiments were echoed by Cork City midfielder Greg Bolger — the club’s stand-in captain in the absence of Johnny Dunleavy — who spent a season with Dundalk in 2011.

“It was great, I was watching them. I was cheering them on, to be fair. I thought they were outstanding. To a man, they were brilliant,” Bolger said.

“Obviously to beat a team like BATE, that’s no mean feat. I think it’s great for the league. Obviously they’re our rivals and when they go out on the pitch we don’t like them, but at the same time, you’ve got to give credit where credit’s due.

“They were unbelievable and it can only be good for the league.”

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Paul Dollery

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