Making a mark

City boss believes playing in Cork has cost McNulty an Ireland call-up

John Caulfield feels Mark McNulty wouldn’t have missed out if he represented Dundalk or a club in Dublin.

MANAGER JOHN CAULFIELD has heaped praise on Mark McNulty, insisting that the Cork City goalkeeper would have received international recognition by now if he played his club football elsewhere in Ireland.

McNulty — who first joined City from Cobh Ramblers back in 2003 — has been ever present in goal for the Leesiders in recent years, having been their first-choice stopper since the club was taken over by supporters back in 2010.

Mark McNulty Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The 36-year-old has kept 10 clean sheets in City’s 20 Premier Division games so far this season, which have helped his side to put one hand on the title. They’re currently 12 points clear of Dundalk and also have two games in hand.

“What I feel is that he’s an under-rated keeper, maybe because he’s down here. Certainly the media outside Cork have a different impression about him, which is totally wrong. I don’t know why,” said Caulfield, who took over as City boss ahead of the 2014 season.

“Since I came in, he never misses training, he hasn’t missed a league game and he’s in his third-and-a-half season with me, which shows the consistency he’s at. His clean sheet ratio in the league, I think the lowest it has been at is 50%. Last year he had 21 out of 33.”

After a defensive mix-up, McNulty made a crucial save to deny Graham Kelly after just 30 seconds of Sunday’s 1-0 victory over St Patrick’s Athletic. The Ballincollig native will hope to be at his best to deny AEK Larnaca’s bid for away goals in the first leg of City’s Europa League second round qualifier at Turner’s Cross on Thursday evening.

Caulfield hailed McNulty as the best goalkeeper in the country after the win against Pat’s. Although he trained with the Republic of Ireland at Fota Island in May — as did Cork City’s reserve goalkeeper Alan Smith — McNulty has never been named in his country’s senior. Caulfield believes he’s been overlooked due to playing in Cork.

Dundalk’s Gary Rogers was included in the Ireland squad for last September’s game against Serbia, although Ian Lawlor, Danny Rogers and Colin Doyle have all featured in the meantime — in addition to Darren Randolph and Keiren Westwood. The likes of Rob Elliot and Stephen Henderson have also both had injury problems recently.

John Caulfield John Caulfield believes Mark McNulty is the League of Ireland's top goalkeeper. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“I just feel that he [McNulty] is under-rated, and he’s always been the top keeper in our league for a number of years,” Caulfield said. “But I think maybe because of the club he’s been at, he probably hasn’t got the credit that he deserves. That’s my opinion.

“To be fair to Mark, he’s been around for a long time and all he wants to do is win a few more medals. He’s happy if he keeps playing and keeps clean sheets. He’s a phenomenal guy and a phenomenal person. That’s why I think he’s head and shoulders over anyone else in the league. He’s so consistent.”

When asked if he believes that McNulty would have received an Ireland call-up if he played for Premier Division champions Dundalk or a club in Dublin, Caulfield said: “No doubt. Absolutely.”

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