“They’ve a passion for League of Ireland,” he said. “We are the biggest club out there. Historically, Shamrock Rovers have won more trophies but we are the biggest club in the league and, without the provincial teams, this league is nowhere. I get disappointed when I watch a lot of the games in Dublin because I look at the teams getting 1,200, 1,300 or 1,400 people and they’re near the top of the table and I’m asking ‘why aren’t they marketing their club?’, ‘why aren’t they bringing kids to the game?’ Bar Rovers, there is no-one in Dublin who attracts crowds anymore, which is very disappointing.
“Now people might say ‘you’re in Cork, you’ve one club in the city’ but Dublin has four times the population and the clubs are in areas with huge, huge populations. It’s disappointing. I feel at times that the boat has been missed in Dublin with the League of Ireland. We’re averaging more than 5,000 on Friday nights which just goes to show there’s a fantastic following for this team. They all went home disappointed on Friday but, to be fair to our supporters, one bad day won’t knock them. Once we get some good results they’ll be back. We’ll lick our wounds and go again.”
Caulfield might bemoan what he calls the concession of “two soft goals” but, otherwise, he saw nothing in Friday’s game to change his pre-season opinion that champions Dundalk remain the team to beat in the top flight.
“The important thing is for us to bounce back,” he said. “We’re definitely a better side than last year but you need to win the big games — and we didn’t.”
But if Cork are better than last year, so too, in Caulfield’s opinion, are Dundalk. “I think they are because when you win it gives you a lot of confidence and belief. To be fair, I think (David) McMillan offers them something different. (Pat) Hoban was outstanding in the air whereas McMillan offers pace and his work rate is phenomenal. People fancied Rovers and Pat’s but I just thought Dundalk were the team to beat again.”
Strangely enough, Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is counting the cost of victory, having unwisely promised to buy everyone in the squad the kind of boots worn by Richie Towell if the man of the hour continued his hot scoring run in Cork. Towell duly delivered, on the double, leaving his gaffer with some painful maths to do.
“They’re 140 each apparently so multiply that by 20, that’s 2,800, so I’m scratching my head,” grinned Kenny. “David McMillan said, ‘well you did sign a new contract’. I’ve some negotiating to do.”
More ominously for the rest of the league, Kenny genuinely believes there’s more to come from his impressive side. “Friday was the closest game we’ve had. Having said that, there is capacity for improvement in a lot of areas in the team. We have to look to get better, because it will be a tough league. Nothing will be won easy. It’s over 50 years since a provincial team retained the title. It’s just so hard. Dundalk have never done it. All the great players who have played for Dundalk and all the great managers — they just haven’t been able to do it. It’s a tough ask but we’ll give it everything to try and achieve that.”
Meanwhile a late equaliser from Brandon Miele rescued a point for Shamrock Rovers as they played out a 1-1 draw with Limerick at Jackman Park on Saturday night.
Martin Russell’s bottom-of-the-table Limerick were minutes away from a first win of the season before Miele’s goal preserved Rovers’ unbeaten start.
Trailing to home skipper Shane Duggan’s first half opener, Rovers struck to level on 86 minutes when winger Miele, who’d earlier hit the crossbar with a free kick, fired home the rebound after a shot from fellow substitute Danny North was blocked. Duggan had given Limerick a 13th minute lead when he ran onto Sean Russell’s through ball to shoot past Craig Hyland in the Rovers’ goal.
Enda Curran scored a superb hat-trick as Galway United beat Bray Wanderer 5-0 at the Carlisle Grounds to leapfrogged the Wicklow side up to eighth place in the Premier Division table.
Ryan Connolly and Padraic Cunningham added further goals to rout hapless Bray as Galway got their first points on the road in emphatic fashion.