‘I owe ev­ery­thing to John Caulfield and Cork City’

Ire­land and Pre­ston striker Seanie Maguire salutes Cork City’s title suc­cess and ex­plains the debt he feels he owes to the club and man­ager John Caulfield

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - FRONT PAGE -

For the past few weeks, when Cork Cty’s games have been on the telly, my­self and Kevin O’Con­nor have been get­ting to­gether in one of our houses in Pre­ston to tune in.

And on Tuesday night came the mo­ment we’d wait­ing for, the fi­nal whis­tle in the draw with Derry which meant City are the 2017 League of Ire­land cham­pi­ons.

It was fan­tas­tic for us to see the boys fi­nally get over the line and, after­wards, see­ing all the con­grat­u­la­tions to the play­ers and the club on Twit­ter made the whole thing re­ally sink in. And the fol­low­ing day, I got to speak to a few of the boys my­self.

It was all worth the wait. My­self and Kev were say­ing to each other on Tuesday night that, even though things are go­ing great at Pre­ston, it would have been nice to have been in the stands at Turner’s Cross just to take it all in. See­ing the cel­e­bra­tions on the pitch shows you not only what it means to the club, the staff and the play­ers but also to the sup­port­ers and the peo­ple of Cork. They’ve waited 12 years for this and it was a re­ally tough decade at times for them be­fore things turned around. To fin­ish top of the pack af­ter com­ing sec­ond three times is a great achieve­ment and I’ve no doubt now that this City team can make his­tory for the club by go­ing on and do­ing the dou­ble next month.

Kev and I can’t be at the Cross on Fri­day week when they will ac­tu­ally get to lift the tro­phy af­ter the Bray game but we are hop­ing to be back for the cup fi­nal. And it’s a great feel­ing for the two of us to know that when we do get home, there will be league medals wait­ing for us.

The boys are en­ti­tled to cel­e­brate what has been a long hard sea­son — when they get the chance. Be­cause, with two games left in the league, I know for a fact that John Caulfield will want them to fin­ish strong so they go into the cup fi­nal in a re­ally pos­i­tive frame of mind.

Some peo­ple have been writ­ing off City’s chances against Dun­dalk be­cause they hadn’t been do­ing as well lately as ear­lier in the sea­son but I think that was just down to a lack of con­fi­dence. I’m sure Tuesday night will have rec­ti­fied that.

Cer­tainly, in terms of boost­ing self-be­lief, there’s no doubt in my mind win­ning the cup last sea­son was the spring­board for this year’s suc­cess. I felt the club re­ally needed to claim a tro­phy and once we did, we kicked on from there.

Go­ing 22 games in a row un­beaten this sea­son was un­be­liev­able. Peo­ple are too quick to for­get that. A league isn’t won over a cou­ple of weeks, and it’s be­cause the boys set such an in­cred­i­ble pace over such a long run of games that they are where they are now. In 10 years time peo­ple won’t re­mem­ber Cork not win­ning a few games; they’ll re­mem­ber them as the cham­pi­ons of 2017. I’m so glad I was able to play my part be­cause I owe the club and, in par­tic­u­lar John Caulfield, so much.

I re­mem­ber the first phone call from him very clearly. I knew I didn’t want to sign back with Dun­dalk be­cause of the way I’d been treated up there. I wasn’t in a good a place, didn’t re­ally know what I was go­ing to do next, and when I got that phone call ask­ing me to meet up with him, I jumped at the op­por­tu­nity.

And when we did sit down to talk, he made it all seem so sim­ple. He said: ‘We know you’re lack­ing a bit of con­fi­dence at the mo­ment but you’re a good player and we want to bring you to Cork’. He said he was happy to give me the op­por­tu­nity but that then it would be up to me to make the most of it. From that mo­ment, I got my focus back. I worked hard in the gym so that, even be­fore I went into pre­sea­son with Cork, I was al­ready at a good fit­ness level. And it all took off from there. I scored a cou­ple of goals on my home de­but and re­ally haven’t looked back since.

Get­ting the move to Pre­ston, mak­ing my Ire­land de­but — if it hadn’t been for Cork City and John Caulfield, none of this would have hap­pened. I feel I owe ev­ery­thing to them. I might be a Kilkenny man but Cork and Cork City will al­ways be a home from home for me.

If I had to pick a per­sonal high­light from this sea­son with the club, it would have to be get­ting a hat­trick when we beat Dun­dalk 3-0 up at Oriel Park.

The pre­vi­ous time we’d gone up there we’d lost the league so to go back and win so em­phat­i­cally was a huge re­sult. And to score the hat-trick was a mas­sive plus for me. I was get­ting stick off their fans prior to the game and I was get­ting stick off their fans dur­ing the game, so to score three — and two of them at the end where all the Cork sup­port­ers were — was def­i­nitely one of the high points of the whole year.

It also turned out to be a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment for me on the way to mak­ing my in­ter­na­tional de­but. I think Martin O’Neill, who was there that night, has said that not just the goals but the runs I was mak­ing and my move­ment in the box ticked a lot of the boxes he likes to see.

I look back in won­der now at how this whole year has gone so far. From the Pres­i­dent’s Cup and scor­ing 20 goals with City to mov­ing to Pre­ston, get­ting an in­ter­na­tional call-up and then mak­ing my Ir­ish de­but — it’s been the stuff of dreams. And now Ire­land are on the brink of qual­i­fy­ing for the World Cup fi­nals.

But I still feel the hard work is only start­ing now. Hav­ing had a taste of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball, I def­i­nitely want more. And I also in­tend to do all I can to try and help Pre­ston get pro­mo­tion to the Premier League.

I’m con­fi­dent too that Cork City will en­joy fur­ther suc­cess, not just in the com­ing cup fi­nal but in years to come. It’s a fan­tas­tic club which has tra­di­tion­ally pro­duced some phe­nom­e­nal play­ers, and I think this title will en­sure they con­tinue to do that. And while I’d imag­ine John will want to keep the bones of this squad to­gether for next year, he will also want to strengthen in cer­tain ar­eas and, to that end, the lure of Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball should also at­tract some big names to the club.

But that’s for another day. For now, I’m just thrilled and de­lighted for everyone at the club that Cork City are the cham­pi­ons of Ire­land.

Pic­ture: INPHO/Mor­gan Treacy

SPE­CIAL MEM­ORY: Seanie Maguire savours the mo­ment af­ter scor­ing the sec­ond of his hat-trick in Cork City’s vic­tory over title ri­vals Dun­dalk at Oriel Park in June. The Ire­land striker nom­i­nated this game as his per­sonal high­light from a sea­son he de­scribes as ‘the stuff of dreams’.

Seanie Maguire

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