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Dublin: 1 °C Sunday 24 February, 2019

Caulfield: 'I understand that a lot of people wouldn't have any grá for Cork, but it doesn't bother me'

Cork City manager John Caulfield spoke about his disappointment at losing Sunday’s FAI Cup final to Dundalk.

Cork City manager John Caulfield pictured at Sunday's FAI Cup final.
Cork City manager John Caulfield pictured at Sunday's FAI Cup final.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

JOHN CAULFIELD ADMITTED that there was little to separate Dundalk and Cork City during yesterday’s FAI Cup final in front of more than 30,000 spectators at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

The manager reflected that, just like in the previous three cup final meetings between the sides on the first Sunday in November, it had often been nip-and-tuck and that one head of a ball proved decisive late on.

Kieran Sadlier’s penalty after 21 minutes brought the defending champions level just a couple of minutes after going behind to a thumping Sean Hoare header. However, City could not capitalise on that initial forward momentum.

Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney and Dean Jarvis celebrate with the FAI Cup after the game Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney and Dean Jarvis celebrate with the FAI Cup. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Following a tense next 50 minutes where crunching tackles and few sights at goal persisted during an evenly-matched encounter, Patrick McEleney capitalised on a stunning Sean Gannon cross to head a 73rd-minute winner past Mark McNulty.

I felt it was an even match,” said Caulfield. “There wasn’t a lot of clear chances. It was a period when the game had opened up, we were punished and that was the difference.
“Congratulations to Dundalk, they’re double-winners. We were double-winners last year, they’re double-winners this year. So, it’s disappointing but you have to shake hands and move on.

“The first goal is a set-piece — a corner kick we normally don’t give away. They got a free header, but in the game there wasn’t a lot in it.

“Sheppard caused a few problems, had a chance at 1-1. We made a mistake and they turned it over at that period. We were wide open and they scored.

“Gary Rogers makes a great save at the end, maybe we could have pulled an equaliser out of it. But Dundalk have won the double, and we congratulate them.”

The Cork City manager reflected that he could not have asked more of his players on Sunday, adding that his side will aim to return stronger next season with new additions to a squad seeking to fill a number of oncoming departures.

You ask your team to perform and give everything on the day and if they do that, you shake their hand. They tried their best and you cannot ask for more than that.

“I understand that a lot of people wouldn’t have any grá for Cork or myself and I understand that, but it doesn’t bother me. All we can do is our best, all I know is that we’ve had five incredible years.

John Caulfield Caulfield congratulated Dundalk on their double success this season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The club was in debt and in huge trouble, a new management team who had never been in League of Ireland management before came in, brought new players and they were all fighting for their lives.

Conor McCarthy has been through [our system], Garry Buckley, Alan Bennett, Mark McNulty have all come through — young Cian Murphy came on today too.

“Dundalk are a super team and what can we do but congratulate them. What can I ask my players to do but give the best performance they can, do what they can and leave everything on the pitch. They’ve done that, and I’m proud of them.

“Do we take a bit of stick? I believe the boys do, but that’s part-and-parcel of it. It’s a results business, we need to deliver results and over the last number of years we’ve been in the top two.

John Caulfield dejected after the game The former Cork striker led the club to its first ever double in 2017. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“If my face doesn’t fit with some people, that’s fine. I love League of Ireland and all I can do is work hard. That’s the way it is.”

The manager revealed that a number of Cork’s players who’s deals run out at the end of this season would be leaving the club, while also stating that Kieran Sadlier had received a number of potential offers from English clubs following a stellar season at Turner’s Cross.

Most of the players who are out of contract will be leaving the club. They have got better offers elsewhere,” the manager said.

“We need to build a new team, have a strong Cork core and we need to bring in some outside players to make a bit of difference in terms of challenging.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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