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League of Ireland clubs are falling behind European counterparts, says Caulfield

The Cork City boss saw his side go down 2-0 to Rosenborg in the Europa League third qualifying round last night.

Caulfield at Turner's Cross last night.
Caulfield at Turner's Cross last night.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CORK CITY MANAGER John Caulfield has warned that SSE Airtricity League sides are slipping further behind clubs from other European leagues.

The Leesiders, who are reigning league and FAI Cup champions after doing the double in 2017, lost out 2-0 to Norwegian outfit Rosenborg in their Europa League third qualifying round first leg at Turner’s Cross last night.

With the exception of Dundalk’s exploits in the Europa League group stages two years ago, LOI clubs haven’t been able to make much headway in European competitions in recent times.

Speaking after the final whistle, the City boss talked of the gulf between his side and the likes of their latest opponents.

“We can talk until the cows come home about the League of Ireland and teams in Europe and whatever,” Caulfield said last night.

“Every once in a number of years you might win a couple of games like we did a couple of years ago but, ultimately, all these teams come from massive industries and they are used to playing in Europe every year and getting to the Champions League and Europa League group stages.

That bit of quality showed and when you look at during the week Rosenborg made a £3.5m bid for a player, whereas we get all of our players on frees. That’s just the way it is, there’s no disgrace in that, but it’s just where we’re at.

“It’s disappointing from that point of view, because against a team like that you need everything to go right for you, and you need to play exceptionally well.”

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Graham Cummins and Damien Delaney dejected Graham Cummins and Damien Delaney after the final whistle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He added: “From our point of view and from the League of Ireland’s point of view, there are very few teams and countries that our league is better than, which is disappointing.

“Maybe ten years ago, we were better than the likes of Cyprus and Israel and these countries. Even when you look at the old Russian countries like Lithuania and Latvia, whereas we might have been better before, all these countries are getting good very quickly.  The investment is massive and they’re passing us out — that’s what is disappointing.

“When you get a team like Rosenborg, who have much more resources, excellent players and so many internationals, you know you have to do everything right.

We played quite well at times but when you concede a goal like the first one particularly, it does knock you.”

Ahead of next week’s return leg, Caulfield insists their hopes of progressing to the play-off stage — where RB Salzburg or KF Shkëndija — are not yet dead.

“It’s a different game, because obviously they’re at home so they can sit in and keep the ball, while we must put pressure on them,” he said. “You never know and that’s the brilliant thing about sport, if you get a goal back, it’s a different type of game.”

- Additional reporting from Paul Dollery 

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Ben Blake

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