Joy for Cork City in cutting Dundalk’s lead at the top to one point with their 1-0 win at Turner’s Cross on Friday has been dampened by the news club captain Johnny Dunleavy is out for the rest of the season following surgery on his knee.
“He just turned in training and the knee gave way,” manager John Caulfield explained.
“They say we train them hard but I can assure you that day there wasn’t a fella near him. The head physio says it was a freak incident.
“It’s a problem between the top of his shin and his knee. He’s gone for a minimum of eight months.
“He’s been told they’ll have him ready for next season.
“He’s a real role model as a captain for us, on and off the pitch – he’s a superb guy at schools or any function you bring him to.
“He’s in bits. I know he’ll be working 24/7 to see can he get back sooner but by all accounts he can’t.”
As the Airtricity League goes into its mid-season break, Caulfield said he can’t be sure of the significance for the title race of his side beating Dundalk for the third time – once in the President’s Cup and twice in the league – this season.
“We’re not even half-way but what it is showing is there’s belief in this team,” he said.
“We have players who’ve come from different clubs who have beaten Dundalk before, like Greg (Bolger) and Kenny (Browne) so that does help, they have no fear factor.
“There’s a long way to go, and there’s Europe, but I suppose what it does show is we are capable, we have the team, we have players that are excellent.
“I think you can see in the three matches we’re every bit as good as Dundalk but, at the same time, being consistent is key.”
Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny was critical of Friday night’s referee Rob Rogers whose sending off of Chris Shields reduced the Lilywhites to ten men for all of the second-half.
“I thought the referee gave Cork City absolutely everything,” he said.
“I’ve never seen such a blatant display of all decisions going one way. Two penalty claims not given (to us), they get a penalty (and) the man sent off is never a sending off.
“That’s not to take away from Cork because they were the better team in the first-half, they played well and we didn’t.
“But I couldn’t believe it, it was real hometown decisions.”
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