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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

Artificial pitches are 'wrong' - but Cork boss Caulfield making no excuses for title decider

Cork City have moved their training sessions to an all-weather pitch in the run-up to Friday’s showdown.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CORK CITY HAVE gone back to school to make sure they are ready for Friday’s Premier Division title decider against Dundalk.

The Rebels have been training on an all-weather pitch in Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa this week to prepare for the artificial surface in Oriel Park.

Visiting teams have struggled against Dundalk all season and the Lilywhites are unbeaten at home with 11 wins from 15 games, conceding just nine goals.

Cork boss John Caulfield feels that the pitch — which is certified by FIFA — should not be allowed but said there will be no excuses if Cork lose out on the league.

He said: “I’ve said all year that I believe that it’s wrong. We shouldn’t be playing professional football matches on that.

“That’s my belief — nothing to [do with] Dundalk because Dundalk are a fantastic team, a good club, top manager.

We won’t be making any excuses. We know the scenario. We’ve been training all week on the all-weather pitch and we’re adjusting to it. We’re not going to be making any excuses because we know about it.

“What we’ve to do is make sure that we give a top performance up there, which we’re well capable of doing. If we do that, we’ll win the league. If we don’t, and they give a top performance and they’re better than us, you shake their hands and congratulate them.”

Cork go into Friday’s decider a point ahead of Dundalk having leapfrogged the long-time leaders on the penultimate weekend.

The maths are simple: if Dundalk win, they will be crowned league champions for the first time since 1995; anything else and the title is heading back to Leeside.

Tickets for the winner-take-all clash are completely sold out and Dundalk — who have added a temporary stand for the night — believe that they could have filled the ground three times over.

It has been a stunning turnaround by Cork whose title bid appeared dead and buried when they were held by Athlone at the end of August. Dundalk went six points clear that evening but with 90 minutes to play, Cork have their noses in front.

Caulfield says he never stopped believing.

“In the last eight or nine weeks, Dundalk’s name was on the cup. Everyone told them they had the cup won.

“One night, we left Athlone after a 2-2 draw. They had won 3-2 and everyone said it was all over that night. Previously, people had said it was all over the night they left us and beat us 2-1.

“I always felt that if we took it game by game and lads worked as hard as they could, we had huge matches to play and very difficult situations.

From the start of the matches to the end of the matches, we fought very hard and we’ve had a small bit of luck. We’ve had a tremendous amount of drive and determination in the team and those late winners were because of that.

“I just had a gut feeling that we could get to this situation. It’s great credit due to the lads.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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