What’s next for champions Cork City and John Caulfield?

John Fallon looks at what Cork City must do to stay on top next season.

What’s next for champions Cork City and John Caulfield?

Revamp the squad

Celebrations went on late into last night but once the haze clears then the cold reality of a squad overhaul will strike. City have two remaining league games and an FAI Cup final to prepare for but as is an occupational hazard within the League of Ireland uncertainty surrounds many of their players.

Ryan Delaney’s loan deal from Burton Albion expires, rumours are rife that Dubliner Karl Sheppard is heading to Dundalk while Greg Bolger also looks set for a homecoming of sorts by moving to Waterford.

Last night’s man-of-the-match Alan Bennett, though recently-turned 36, is also out of contract.

Recruit two new strikers

Last night’s drab draw showed exactly what Cork will need if they’re to harbour hopes of replicating Dundalk’s dominance of the domestic scene. Relegation candidates Galway and Sligo Rovers, with 12 points, claimed six more than Cork did in last seven matches. Over that downturn, just four goals were scored.

City have missed Sean Maguire to the same extent Wales were pained by the loss of Gareth Bales in last week’s World Cup qualifier against Ireland. That burden is too much for one replacement to shoulder, so Cork need to start soon by recruiting Ronan Murray from Galway. The acquisition of proven frontman David McMillan shouldn’t be discounted either.

Generate commercial revenue

City have always been the best-supported club in the League yet, as proved almost fatal in 2008, gate receipts alone cannot bankroll a team planning to defend the title and perform on the Champions League circuit.

While their entrance to the biggest competition in Europe is far more lucrative than their last adventure 12 years ago, the pitiful prize-money from the FAI means domestically generated sources of income have to be the prioritised. The club’s board last month advertised for a general manager and the fact an accountancy firm handled the recruitment process said much for the expectations on the successful candidate. Increased sponsorship is a must.

Give youth a chance

Although success has been delivered by the underage squad, especially the U19s, integration of graduates into the team has been slow. Chiedozie Ogbene and Aaron Drinan grew so frustrated that they departed and both have been vindicated, most damningly in Drinan’s case as he has agreed to join Ipswich Town.

Undoubtedly, Conor McCarthy’s promotion to the team this season has been a plus but a club of City’s stature need young gems coming to them younger than 16 as the defender did from Blarney United. They’ll be hoping the new U15 national league aids that objective.

Nail John Caulfield down on a new contract

Dundalk was supposed to be the team in tatters following their early season slump but they showed their faith in Stephen Kenny by handing the most successful manager in their history a new long-term contract.

Negotiations on a successor to Caulfield’s deal, which expires next month, have not been so fruitful as, remarkably, no white smoke has emerged from Turner’s Cross.

Caulfield has insisted there’s nothing untoward at play, that details will be finalised once the campaign concludes but how can he preach a long-term outlook to potential new recruits when his own future is unresolved?

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox