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'I think they're going to have a difficult season' - Caulfield expects a tough 2015 for Limerick

Caulfield’s Cork City put five past the Shannonsiders last night.

Cork City manager John Caulfield.
Cork City manager John Caulfield.

WITH JUST TWO games played, you’d be reluctant to start writing the obituary for Limerick’s 2015 campaign in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

However, even at such an early stage, the omens are not good for Martin Russell’s side following an inauspicious start that has left them pointless and with a goal difference of minus-eight.

They were beaten 5-0 at Turner’s Cross last night by a Cork City team who never had to get close to fifth gear. The gulf between the teams was vast, although their ambitions this season differ greatly.

It was difficult not to feel sympathy for Limerick. Ultimately they were out-classed, but things could have been different had they taken the lead with just over a minute played when City goalkeeper Mark McNulty struggled to deal with a Shane Duggan shot from distance.

The contest ended realistically when Billy Dennehy netted an 18th-minute penalty, but if Limerick were still clinging to hope, it disappeared just after the half-hour mark when Duggan was red-carded against his former club for a tackle on Danny Morrissey.

Martin Russell is working with a small squad of young players and a very limited budget, so they’re fighting an uphill battle on Shannonside. Their goal is to stay in the division, but what they’ve produced so far won’t be good enough to achieve that.

“Martin has a huge job in Limerick. It’s very difficult for him,” said Cork City manager John Caulfield. “His budget has been whipped altogether and he’s brought a lot of young players through, to be fair to him. He’s a good manager, he’s working hard, but it is difficult for him.

“I suppose when you look at it overall, we would have expected to win. We were two up, played quite well early on and obviously when the sending-off came then I think the game was over.

“The pleasing thing for us is for the first time since I’ve been here we’ve got five goals in the league, 5,000 spectators at the match, and with two games gone we have four points on the board. Happy with that.

“I don’t want to get carried away, because ultimately I think Limerick have a young side and they have a lot to do. I think they’re going to have a difficult season and I suppose — from a Cork point of view — the stronger Limerick are, the better.

“Hopefully they can hang in there and maybe get some players in the break. But it is going to be difficult, so from that point of view, I think we’ll have much, much tougher challenges.”

Shane Duggan dejected at the final whistle Limerick had captain Shane Duggan sent off for a tackle on Danny Morrissey. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Limerick played most of the game with 10-men after captain Shane Duggan’s dismissal, and Caulfield had sympathy for the former Cork City midfielder.

He said: “To be fair to Shane Duggan, he’s a decent guy and he’s an honest player. I wouldn’t say there was anything malicious in it. I haven’t seen it back on TV.

“It looked maybe a bit late from where I was but to be fair to Shane Duggan, I wouldn’t like to say anything because we know him from being down here and he’s a decent guy. That would be out of character for him.”

Caulfield’s challenges on Leeside are much different, and more desirable, to those facing Martin Russell in Limerick. Team selection is one. He has a strong squad this season, as evidenced by the fact that two of 2014′s key players — Dan Murray and Mark O’Sullivan — had to be content with roles as unused substitutes last night.

“No one wants to be left out, everyone wants to play every match I’m sure,” Caulfield said. “As I keep saying, we’ll achieve nothing unless we have a big squad and a strong squad, which we have.

“Yeah, there’s difficult decisions to be made. To be fair to Dan, he hurt his groin during the week and he wanted to play. We decided not to play him. Mark was a different scenario so, yeah, you make a few changes and I suppose that’s going to be the nature of the season, with all the games we have, that these things are going to happen.

“Ultimately, from my own point of view, I only want to do the best for the club. I have to pick the team that I feel is right for the night, personalities don’t come into it. That’s my job really.”

The City team last night showed three changes to the one that took a point away at Sligo Rovers last weekend. The indications are that there’ll be more reshuffling for Friday’s visit to Tallaght.

Caulfield added: “The next most important match for us is away to Shamrock Rovers next Friday night. Totally different game. You won’t be able to play as open and you may not be able to attack as often because it will be a tougher, tighter game.

“You may change personnel around. It’s one of those ones this year that you may not be playing your same 11 week-in-week-out as maybe you did last year. You need more options. Thankfully at the moment I think we have it.”

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Paul Dollery

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