Graham Cummins: Of course Caulfield would love to get one over on City

I still find it hard to take Caulfield’s comments from three weeks ago seriously - when he labelled City “overwhelming favourites” for the league.
Graham Cummins: Of course Caulfield would love to get one over on City

13 May 2022; Galway United manager John Caulfield during the SSE Airtricity League First Division match between Wexford and Galway United at Ferrycarrig Park in Wexford. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

The League of Ireland Premier Division would benefit from both Galway United and Cork City being in it. Unfortunately, there is only one guaranteed place in next season’s top-tier for teams in this year’s First Division. 

That’s likely to be one of the two, such has been their dominance this year. Tonight, they meet at Deacy Park and although the result will not determine who goes on to lift the league trophy, the psychological impact could be huge.

The timing of the game would make a victory for either all the sweeter. Getting that win over your main rivals just before the mid-season break would give huge belief, and leave the losers questioning if they are good enough to win promotion.

I still find it hard to take Caulfield’s comments from three weeks ago seriously - when he labelled City “overwhelming favourites” for the league. Is he trying to con his players into thinking they are underdogs to ease any pressure they might be feeling?

I doubt it. One; because I don’t think his players are naive enough to believe his comments. And two; because knowing Caulfield, he will be trying to convince the media and the rest of the country of one thing while telling his players another.

Does the Galway manager really believe that it would be acceptable for the team with the biggest budget in the division, possibly the best squad, and the most successful manager to see themselves as underdogs to a side with an insufficient budget, a young squad and a manager in just his second season in charge of a first team?

Maybe he was trying to heap pressure on this young City side. Perhaps Colin Healy's players may start to feel the weight of expectation on them and begin to stutter?

But these City players have been dealing with pressure since the start of the season. They have to please the thousands of supporters that go to Turner’s Cross every week, who demand not just winning football, but a certain attractive brand of football as well. So the words of a rival manager aren’t going to have any sort of lasting impact.

Caulfield is a proven winner who will do anything in his power to help his team win, even little comments here and there. His players should appreciate that. He will always fight his players’ corner and try to take pressure off them, even if his antics are often token gestures rather than serious actions.

Having managed and played for the club, I don’t doubt that there is a place in Caulfield’s heart for City but he would still love nothing more than to beat them to the title, and who could blame him.

This is a man who brought many years of success to Leeside, including a double in 2017, but still ended up being let go by the club.

From previous comments; it’s fair to say that the Galway manager didn’t have the greatest of relationships with the current City board at the end of time on Leeside. Of course he would derive great satisfaction finishing above a club whose board didn’t deem him good enough to continue in his role at City.

It was the same when I returned to face City with Shamrock Rovers. I was deemed not good enough to play for the club, and although I had and have strong affiliations there, I was desperate to prove the manager wrong. As it turned out, I had a terrible game and the manager’s decision was vindicated.

Caulfield’s record against City as Galway manager isn’t the greatest, having won only won one of their four meetings. That came earlier this season, a game Galway didn’t deserve to win though they did play the majority of the second half with only ten men.

Caulfield will have watched that game back several times this week and will try to create a similar gameplan.

Despite not being “overwhelming favourites” for the league, Galway will be favourites for tonight’s clash of these two heavyweights. They have been excellent in recent weeks and are vastly improved since the sides’ last encounter. Being at home, the onus will be on Galway to take the game to City and get the three points.

I’m sure City will likewise travel with the intention of winning the game. But were you to offer them a point now, they would take it.

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