Cork City boss John Caulfield has reignited his war of words with Shamrock Rovers, saying his club are expecting “gamesmanship” in their meeting this week and accusing Hoops players of “hitting the deck for no reason”.
The SSE Airticity Premier Division leaders travel to Tallaght Stadium on Friday knowing a win, and a Dundalk failure to see off St Patrick’s Athletic the same night, could see Cork crowned champions for the first time since 2005.
Caulfield, though, is taking nothing for granted, and has accused Rovers of cheating in their last encounter. City and Rovers were involved in a heated EA Sports Cup semi-final this month, which saw Cork’s Alan Bennett sent off after clashing with Hoops defender David Webster.
Bennett was accused of stamping on Webster but Caulfield accused the Rovers man of feigning injury. In turn, Rovers boss Stephen Bradley called Caulfield’s comments “disgraceful”. Rovers advanced with a James Doona winner in the last minute of extra-time.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day, there’s been a lot of gamesmanship going on,” Caulfield — who was sent to the stands during that fiery cup clash — said yesterday.
“Looking at the last match, you know, obviously the likes of Webster... there’s hard men in League of Ireland football, I always say, guys like Alan Bennett, Brian Gartland (Dundalk), the late Ryan McBride (Derry City), guys who just got on with it and played the game. but you know, there’s a few lads out there who pretend to be hard and when someone runs by them, they hit the deck.
“We have to be prepared for gamesmanship and from that point of view, we need our discipline because we got caught the last day with Alan getting sent off and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Fellas are hitting the deck for no reason, so for us, it’s about concentrating on our own game, not getting involved in what they do.”
Caulfield’s comments are sure to enrage Bradley, who said Webster had stud marks on his chest after the EA Sports Cup semi-final. But the Cork boss was not holding back in his criticism.
“All the shouting has come from the other corner,” said Caulfield. “As I keep saying, any person in charge of any team. or any manager, your time will come and other people will decide your fate, with your results after a period of time.
“There’s no doubt there’s been a lot of shouting coming at myself and at the club but we’re in a great position. We’ve done fantastically well over the last few years, we’ve come from nowhere. We’ve to hold our heads and not get inovlved.
“We expect them to be very physical, we expect gamesmanship, so we have to be very cute and make sure we concentrate on our own game and what’s on the pitch. That’s what we’ll do and that’s what we’ve done all season.”
City will be hoping to have Stephen Dooley back in action. The Antrim man has been missing since getting injured in the EA Sports Cup loss to Rovers on August 7.
“We’re assessing Stephen. He’s just back in light training so we’ll wait until closer to the match. Greg Bolger has a knock but we’ll give him every chance to recover. Robbie Williams came through the other night against Athlone, and Benno (Alan Bennett) is good.”
Cork will face Longford Town in the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup, with Rovers facing Leinster Senior League side Bluebell United. Galway United host Limerick while last season’s beaten finalists Dundalk meet Louth rivals Drogheda. Holders Cork are expecting a difficult assigment at the City Calling Stadium, with Longford led by former City attacker Neale Fenn.
“Neale Fenn is doing a good job with Longford so we’ll deal with them next week,” said Caulfield. “It’s another difficult tie. They beat Sligo, and Sligo beat us! So we need to prepare properly but all our focus for now is on Friday.”
Meanwhile SSE Airtricity U19 champions UCD AFC will face Molde SK of Norway in the first-round of the Uefa Youth League. UCD won last years’s Airtricity U19 League and will will face Molde at the UCD Bowl in the first leg.
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