Cork City boss John Caulfield admits his job could have been in jeopardy if the club had not won the FAI Cup final last year, as expectation levels in the League of Ireland are being compared to the Premier League.
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
St Patrick’s Athletic v Cork City
Tonight: Richmond Park, 7.45pm
Referee: Robert Hennessy
Bet: Pat’s 13/2 City 4/9 Draw 6/5
And the manager believes the cup win has changed the mentality at the Turner’s Cross club, paving the way for this season’s sensational start, which has seen the club win nine league games in a row.
City’s extra-time win over Dundalk last November — courtesy of a Sean Maguire goal in the last minute — provided a much-needed trophy to the Leesiders, only the third FAI Cup win in the club’s history.
“Did I think at the start of the season we’d have a start like this? I didn’t but I felt we were very close. The cup gave us the lift, the confidence,” Caulfield said, ahead of tonight’s trip to St Patrick’s Athletic.
“I felt we would go up another level, and that’s what we’re doing.
“Inner belief sometimes comes when you win a trophy. After the cup final was a turning point, it gave the players that extra confidence.
“If we lost cup last year, what would have happened? I don’t know. I’m very positive. We’ve had a phenomenal start but there are people out there who don’t like you and who don’t like the club.
"That’s fine, they’ll write stuff against you but you have to be positive with the people around you.
“I’m always under pressure. You look at the appointments and dismissals of Martin Russell (Limerick), Dave Robertson (Sligo Rovers). They’re incredible decisions, because we’re treating managers here like managers in England.
“What people seem to forget is that managers in the Premier League, they’re multimillionaires. Here, they’re just trying to pay their bills.”
Steven Beattie and John Dunleavy are considered doubtful while Jimmy Keohane will miss tonight’s game at Richmond Park with a shoulder injury, meaning City will have to reshuffle their defence.
Keohane had been playing at right-back in recent matches so Caulfield must now consider his options there, with Conor McCormack — who has excelled in midfield in the absence of Greg Bolger — a viable option in defence.
Caulfield won’t underestimate Pat’s, who have blown hot and cold this season.
“Pat’s on paper, have a serious squad, who have won major trophies. Some weeks they’re lightning, others they’re not, which is probably frustrating for Liam Buckley.
“Last Friday night Bohs threw everything at us. It was a real digging in game. From out point of view we know we’re there to be knocked. Our guys have to be ready for that challenge.”
Pat’s will take confidence from the fact they beat City 3-1 when the sides last met in October.
Tonight the Saints will be without striker Christy Fagan with a hamstring injury, while former Cork City defender Darren Dennehy also misses out for the Saints with an ankle injury.
“Cork are a good side and they’ve been impressive in the games I’ve seen them in so they deserve to be top of the league,” said Buckley. “However, we’re full of belief that we can get a result.”
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