Newly-crowned SSE Airtricity Premier Division champions Cork host Bray Wanderers on Friday night.
There was a welcome boost last night as key midfielder Gearoid Morrissey confirmed he has signed a new two-year deal at the club. But there has been huge speculation on the future of several of the club’s other top stars, with several players out of contract.
Yesterday Caulfield confirmed that Ireland Under-21 defender Delaney will be leaving the club when his loan deal ends. “Ryan has to go back to Burton. He’s their player,” said Caulfield. “We had a great relationship with Burton manager Nigel Clough giving him to us for a full year.
“Ryan’s going back there with a league medal, he’s played for the Irish U21s and he’s played 40 games. So they want to see can he get into their team and play regularly. I imagine when Ryan leaves this time, we’ll be shaking his hand and saying ‘thanks a million’.”
Former Wexford Youths players Delaney has proved a shrewd bit of business by the Turner’s Cross club. City lost defensive linchpin Kenny Browne to Waterford on the eve of the season, but Delaney formed a solid partnership with veteran Alan Bennett, helping the Cork club to their third League of Ireland title.
Caulfield also confirmed yesterday that former Ireland international Bennett, after another impressive season, is likely to be offered another season at his hometown club.
“We’ve been working very hard with all the lads this week. Obviously everything was put on hold with the title run-in,” said Caulfield. “I would like the lads to stay. That’s where we’re at.”
Morrissey’s decision to stay is a welcome boost. The midfielder scored six league goals in the title-winning campaign. “I knew I had to add goals to my game and, thankfully, they have been goals that have meant something, so I am happy from that point of view,” said Morrissey. “There is a buzz around the city at the moment and I think next year will be a special year as well.”
Caulfield said: “We are delighted; Gearóid is a local lad and is coming into the peak of his career now, so I feel that in the next three or four years, he will be the standout player in the league.”
The Cork manager says he is resigned to losing some players who will get better cash offers at other clubs. “We’re not in the top three payers in this country at the moment. If you’ve a straight choice between money offers, some players will go; on the other hand you try to sell the environment, who we are, with 5,000 fans every week, where everybody in the city and county knows you, with the coverage, the facilities — some players will buy into that. If a fella feels he needs to go somewhere else and get a better offer, that’s fine too.”
Caulfield also confirmed defender John Kavanagh will be back in the Cork fold when he returns from his loan spell at Cobh Ramblers.
Meanwhile Bohemians have been handed a huge boost with the news Shane Supple and Rob Cornwall have signed new deals.
Former Ipswich Town goalkeeper Supple, 30, now in his second season at Bohs, has agreed a contract that will keep him at Dalymount until the end of 2019. Supple has been one of Ireland’s stand-out goalkeepers this season.
Defender Cornwall, 23, joined Bohs from rivals Shamrock Rovers at the end of last season, and will stay at Bohs until the end of 2018.