While Dundalk were getting trimmed 3-0 at home by a 10-man Sligo Rovers side, Caulfield’s City side were putting five past Galway United for the second time in three weeks to close the gap at the top to just a point, while at the same time wiping out the goal difference disparity between themselves and the league leaders.
Caulfield said: “It is a massive game on Tuesday, but we probably won’t be expected to get a result there. We have beaten them twice in the league this season and we beat them in the Presidents Cup as well. For the last two seasons, we couldn’t beat them, but this season we have and that will give the lads confidence for Tuesday night.
“But in saying that, it will still go right to the wire, no matter what the result on Tuesday night. We have to take each game as it comes as we are both playing three games a week at this stage.
“I always felt the league would go down to the wire, not many people thought it would, people were saying the league was all over, that the greatest team in the history of Ireland had the league wrapped up. But we always felt we had a chance.
“We played six matches in Europe this year, went to the third qualifying round and people seem to forget that — when the league is over in three weeks’ time, Dundalk will have played three more matches than us over the whole season, people don’t realise that,” Caulfield said.
City recorded their biggest-ever win over United on Saturday night and, coupled with Dundalk’s defeat at home to Sligo, Caulfield’s side are now two goals better off on goal difference, having started the day six in arrears.
The architect of the win was Karl Sheppard, who set up four of the five City goals in a man-of-the-match display, starting after just 75 seconds when Stephen Maguire fired home after being picked out by the former United man.
Sheppard went close to adding a second himself in the 12th minute, only to fire over from the edge of the box, but the former United player turned provider twice more before the midway point of the half was reached.
He got past Stephen Walsh in the 15th minute to pick out the unmarked Stephen Beattie, who fired home from 12 yards; and Garry Buckley got in on the act four minutes later, heading home yet another Sheppard cross.
Maguire grabbed his second of the game three minutes into the second-half, firing across Ramsbottom and inside the far post after being played through by Holohan; and substitute Chiedozie Ogbene completed the rout in the third minute of injury time, applying the finishing touch to yet another Sheppard delivery from the right.
Ramsbottom; Horgan, Aganovic, Folan (Cantwell 58), Walsh; Shanahan, Sinnott (Byrne 58), Connolly, Devaney; Curran (Melody 72), Faherty.
McNulty; Beattie, Bolger (Healy 61), Browne (McSweeney 61), O’Connor; Bolger, Holohan; Sheppard, Buckley, Dooley (Ogbene 75); Maguire.
R Matthews (Longford).