O’Sullivan hits new heights with City

Mark O’Sullivan is the man who has swapped the top of the house for the top of the table, his headed goal and all around man-of-the-match performance helping Cork City see off Shamrock Rovers 3-0 at Turner’s Cross on Friday to go two points clear in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.

It’s the third time coming to City for the 31-year-old striker — a roofer by trade who has taken a year out to commit himself full-time to football — after he first failed to make the grade under Damien Richardson and then had another brief spell under Tommy Dunne in 2010. But City manager John Caulfield, who got to know the player well when he had him as a prolific goalscorer at Avondale, says he never doubted O’Sullivan’s ability to handle the step up.

“He’s honest, strong, has an absolutely fantastic attitude and really wants to prove he can do it at this level,” says Caulfield. “And he has two goals in five games but, more importantly, he’s probably created three or four more. I think the centre-backs around the country are wondering who he is and how can a fellow from junior football step up? The gap is massive and there’s only the odd few — but he’s one of them.”

Injuries to strikers Danny Morrissey, Michael Rafter and Anthony Elding have seen O’Sullivan make the most of his opportunity to impress but Caulfield says it had never been his intention for the player to simply make up the numbers.

“He was always going to get his chance,” he says. “I wasn’t bringing him in as a fourth striker, I was thinking that he could really help us.”

O’Sullivan’s wholehearted effort has been in keeping with the general intensity of City’s play, an approach Caulfield has consciously instilled in his team.

“Absolutely, because I felt we had gone too much to the other side,” he says. “If I look at the team in the last period, I felt we were too easy to get at and we were playing too slowly. I felt we could play at a higher tempo because we have lots of pace in the team. And I think it’s shown that.

“If we were standing off maybe the likes of Pats, and maybe playing a slower game, I think they they’ll take us off. So we need to play that type of game.”

Indeed, Caulfield himself has been a similarly all-action presence in the technical area since the start of the season.

“Look, the way I feel is I’d love to be Liam Buckley, I’d love to be able to fold my arms and sit back but that’s not me,” he says.

“I am passionate, no doubt [laughs]. I don’t get involved with opposition or anything. I just encourage my own lads. They know the type of guy I am. We discussed it and they’re quite happy with me. For the moment anyway!”

The postponement of tonight’s game against Limerick at Thomond Park gives City players extra recovery time after Friday’s leg-sapping effort but there’s no rest for Shamrock Rovers who host UCD in Tallaght (8pm). In tonight’s other Premier Division games, it’s Athlone Town v Bohs, Bray v St Pats, Dundalk v Derry and Sligo v Drogheda. All kick offs 7.45pm unless indicated.

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