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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Cork City manager John Caulfield celebrates after last night's win over Dundalk at Turner's Cross.
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'If people want to criticise me, that's fine... I'm here to do a job'
Cork City manager John Caulfield addressed criticism of his side’s tactics after last night’s win over Dundalk.

CORK CITY MANAGER John Caulfield hailed an inexperienced defence with an average age of 21 after his side kept a 10th consecutive clean sheet at home and moved back to the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

City were 1-0 winners over Dundalk last night thanks to a second-half volley from Gearoid Morrissey at Turner’s Cross, where 6,672 supporters turned out to watch a typically feisty affair between the two fierce rivals.

The Leesiders kept Dundalk out despite the loss of left-back Shane Griffin to injury earlier this week. That resulted in a league debut for Ireland U21 international Danny Kane, who formed part of a back four which boasted just 23 Premier Division starts for the club between them.

Kane and right-back Colm Horgan were winter arrivals from Huddersfield Town and Galway United respectively, while the centre-half partnership of Sean McLoughlin and Conor McCarthy — who was named man of the match — came through City’s underage ranks.

“We have huge opinions of Conor [McCarthy],” Caulfield said. “You can see his talent. It’s all about concentration and focus. He is a tremendous talent and so is [Sean] McLoughlin, so is Danny Kane, [Shane] Griffin who was out tonight, Colm Horgan who had a difficult time in the President’s Cup but showed me during the week that it wouldn’t happen him again. He was outstanding. He didn’t give Michael Duffy, who’s one of their top players, an opportunity to even get a cross in.

“But as a back four, their concentration levels were superb. They’re up against experienced players, particularly Patrick Hoban who can push you around the place. Even though Dundalk went quite direct for maybe the last 20 minutes, the lads stood up, defended really well, got the headers in and got the blocks in. The young players will only get better.”

Caulfield brushed off questions raised about his side’s tactics. In his post-match television interview with RTÉ, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny lamented that the game “hadn’t got enough good football in it”, while seeming frustrated by City’s “very, very direct” approach.

For much of the game, the champions relied heavily on long balls sent in the direction of lone striker Graham Cummins, who was often isolated in attack. Nevertheless, the only goal of the game went City’s way in the 59th minute when Morrissey executed a brilliant volley moments after Garry Buckley flicked Karl Sheppard’s excellent delivery off the crossbar.

“It depends what way you look at it,” Caulfield said when asked about Kenny’s comments. “You can review it yourself and look back on TV. We felt that this year Dundalk have obviously changed their style. They don’t have the movement of [Ciaran] Kilduff and [David] McMillan, but Patrick Hoban is a fantastic player. He’s brilliant in the air, great hold-up play, they use him a lot and they go direct.

Gearoid Morrissey Ryan Byrne / INPHO Gearoid Morrissey was Cork City's goalscoring hero last night at Turner's Cross. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“I think maybe if Stephen [Kenny] looks at the last 20 minutes of the match, he’ll see that they probably played maybe 20 or 30 balls direct from the halfway line straight in on top of him [Hoban]. So it depends what way you look at it.

“If people want to criticise me, that’s fine. At the end of the day I’m here to do a job. We’ve been free-flowing for the last couple of years. We had different players. [Stephen] Dooley, [Sean] Maguire, all these guys were special. We had probably the best goalscorer in the history of the league. That might be unfair on maybe one or two other strikers.

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“So we evolved and we’ve turned into a fantastic team. We lost a number of players and you have to go again. You have to start. That’s just the way it is.

“In some performances this year we’ve been outstanding. We’ve got a number of goals — Pat’s, Waterford, Bohs, whatever — but some days things have gone against us and we’ve had to dig in.

“All of a sudden that happens, but don’t worry about us. The goals will come. As I said, I’m well used to it. I wish people would talk up the league rather than slagging me off. But that’s me anyway.”

City will take a three-point lead to Tallaght Stadium on Monday for their game against Shamrock Rovers, but Caulfield knows it’s still early days in their bid to retain the title.

He said: “The most important thing is that with 13 games gone, we’re up near the top. As I keep saying, once we get to the break and we’re in around that position, I’ll be happy enough.”

Watch: The superb Morrissey volley that settled Cork City and Dundalk’s top of the table clash

Morrissey fires Cork City back to the top and ends Dundalk’s unbeaten run

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