Challenging time ahead for City
THE 2018 domestic footballing season came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon with the FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.
It was Dundalk that came away with the silverware on offer and cemented their status as Ireland’s number one right now.
This current Cork City and Dundalk rivalry has been great for Irish football and for the neutral.
Their battles have been enthralling and they both have pushed each other on. But with reported budget cuts at the club reportedly to the region of €300,000 and also talk of a good few potential departures from the current playing squad, the offseason from a City perspective promises to be a very fascinating one indeed.
The discussion and speculation about this player or that player staying or going is sure to be in overdrive, during a time which is more commonly referred to as ‘silly season’.
The playing squad looks set to be trimmed. If last year is anything to go by, then the recruitment of players will have to be better this offseason.
That will have to be done by getting good quality players with less money.
John Caulfield will have a busy off season in that regard. Some of the players he brought in at the start of this season did not have as big an impact as he would have wished.
Efficient and clever recruitment will be key for City over the coming months. The losses of Stephen Dooley and also Sean Maguire meant there was a rebuilding job do be done in attack.
When you look back over the 2018 season, the Dundalk attacking players were more prolific than City’s and that was ultimately crucial in deciding the title race.
The Lilywhites ended the league season with a total of 85 goals scored, compared to the 71 of the Leesiders.
In Kieran Sadlier, Cork had on his day is one of the most talented players in the League of Ireland.
But this season, he probably hasn’t hit the heights of his potential as much as a Michael Duffy, Patrick Hoban or a Patrick McEleney have for Dundalk.
When one looks back the reign of John Caulfield as City to date, he and the Rebel Army don’t get the credit they deserve one could argue.
Whatever people think about their brand of football, City are a team that have consistently produced good results during Caulfield’s reign.
Stephen Kenny’s name is often touted as a potential future Ireland manger. Nobody mentions John Caulfield, even though he has been the only one to come up with a game plan to overcome this talented Dundalk side.
The only team to come close to and also overcome this impressive Dundalk under Stephen Kenny in terms of challenging for honours is Caulfield’s City.
The mission now for Cork will be to ensure a squad and a plan is assembled to mount a challenge on all fronts for 2019.
2019 will hopefully from a neutral point of view see the start of more teams trying to bridge the gap and challenge the two sides that have dominated Irish football over the past number of years.
Shamrock Rovers have the potential to become a title challenger over the next couple of years.
That was said at the start of this year also mind.
2019 will be a key year for Stephen Bradley one feels in Tallaght and a more sustained challenge to the likes of a Cork City or Dundalk in the league standings will be required.
With the backing of Swindon Town owner Lee Power, along with European football to look forward to next year, Waterford could be even stronger next term as well.
The managerial appointments of Liam Buckley at Sligo Rovers and Harry Kenny at St Pat’s should inject levels of excitement among those clubs, while Bohs will be keen to try and build the momentum they’ve built under Keith Long.
However, with Champions League football to look forward to and the continued investment of US firm Peak6 behind, Dundalk look set to be even stronger next term and could be too strong for anyone to land a meaningful blow in the League Of Ireland title race.
John Caulfield will be solely concerned about getting City ready for the 2019 season over the coming few months. The team we see line out at Turner’s Cross could be a quite changed one next season.
But as we have seen during his reign at the club, Caulfield and Cork City seem to thrive on the status of the underdog.
Cork City’s Karl Sheppard is tackled by Dundalk’s Sean Hoare during the FAI cup final at the Aviva.
Cork City fans Cian, Andrew and Ryan Kilkenny and Vanessa Theodoro, Ballincollig, at the game.
Cork City’s Graham Cummins has words with referee Neil Doyle on Sunday.