Caulfield focused on the big prize

AVONDALE United manager, John Caulfield, reckons his team possess the hunger to repeat the glory of 2006 and retain the FAI Carlsberg Intermediate Cup against first-time finalists, Bangor Celtic, at Turner’s Cross tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Five years into his tenure as Avondale boss, Caulfield has brought unprecedented success to the Ballintemple-based club, including Munster Senior League First and Premier Division titles as well as landing last year’s blue-riband national trophy for amateur clubs.

The former Cork City striker, who enjoyed golden days at Turner’s Cross during a long and distinguished League of Ireland career, says winning the Intermediate Cup is the “highest accolade one can achieve at this level”.

Caulfield added: “It’s the second biggest cup in the country after the FAI Senior Cup. It will be a fantastic day for the members of the club, the players and their families. It’s a huge occasion and something for everyone to look forward to.

“Last year we won the FAI Intermediate Cup for the first time in 28 years — it was a superb achievement. At the start of this season, you’re hoping you can go far in this competition again. But it’s a difficult competition to go far in with so many Dublin and Donegal teams and, of course, Cork teams.”

Avondale finished second in the Munster Senior League this season behind Rockmount and, while the league was a priority, Caulfield and his charges always had one eye on the Intermediate Cup.

“At the start of the season we’d hoped to get a good run in this competition. We’re absolutely thrilled that we’re here 12 months later. We would have had intentions as well in the league, but I think once we beat Cherry Orchard in the quarter-final of this competition, the focus of the squad changed and they could see there was a chance of winning this again.”

He added: “Our history in the last three years between the Intermediate Cup and the FAI Senior Cup has been very good. We’ve had 12 games and nine of them have been away from home. Our record away from home has been phenomenal.

“The fact the game is in Cork is going to boost the attendance for us. Turner’s Cross is the main soccer venue in Cork and a place you don’t get to play in too often so it’s fantastic.”

A stickler for preparation, Caulfield is well aware of the strengths of tomorrow’s opponents. “They’re an extremely strong side, very strong defensively, like to play ball and have an excellent goalkeeper in Brendan Kennedy, who came from Kildare County. I’ve done my homework on them. But on the day you need to be up for the game, to have the same drive and attitude we had last year, and will to win.

“From our point of view I feel that if we show the same desire that we had last year, we won’t be far away.

“The lads have shown me the hunger during the campaign — to go to Cherry Orchard, to go to Kildrum in the semi-final, to go up to Mayfield in the fourth round when they were top of the league here at the time.

“We were in a tricky situation before Christmas against CYM Terenure. We were 1-0 down with 25 to go and pulled out a victory. The attitude and determination has been there.”

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