CORK CITY manager John Caulfield was encouraged with the performances of the players given opportunities as the Rebel Army retained the Munster Senior Cup on Friday night.
A 3-1 win over Midleton at Turner’s Cross saw City make it three provincial titles in a row. Having made 10 changes from the win over Bohemians the previous week, Caulfield felt that the newcomers did well.
“Early on, we were lively and we were sharp,” he said.
“Pierce was very good down the right flank and Ronan Hurley on the left, they were getting in behind. Benno [Alan Bennett] was just coming in after a period out and Colm [Horgan] needed an extra bit of game-time, in the middle Garry Comerford and Kevin O’Connor, they all need that.
“The front lads, [James] Tilley, [Dan] Smith, [Darragh] Rainford did well early on and [Liam] Nash, too.
“They all worked very hard and in the last 15, 20 they did tire but it’s no harm to get a game under their belt.”
Rainsford’s opener set City on their way but the second and third goals didn’t arrive until the second half.
“I thought in the first 20, 25 minutes, we played with a lot of fluency,” Caulfield said.
“Fair play to Midleton, they defended really deep and they were very compact but we were creating chances.
“Obviously, Darragh Rainsford scored and Dan Smith maybe should have got another from a header.
“To be fair to Midleton, they had a chance from a free kick and they knew it’d be one of those games where they wouldn’t have a lot of chances and they were probably unlucky not to take it.
“At half-time, we just felt that we needed to get back to moving the ball quicker and in the second half we were much better for long spells, we were livelier.
“Midleton did hit the post and it was good for them to get the goal though it was disappointing from our point of view.
“Overall, a lot of lads got game-time and we were happy with that and to win the final again.”
One blot on the night was the red card for James Tilley near the end for a tackle which saw Midleton defender Kevin Murray having to be stretchered off.
“My view was obstructed by the linesman so I couldn’t see it clearly,” Caulfield said.
“We’re going to have a look at it but everyone around me was saying that it wasn’t a good tackle and that’s disappointing.
“Kevin Murray is a gentleman and a fabulous player and hopefully he’s not too bad.”
For his part, Midleton manager Mark Duggan couldn’t fault the effort of his charges.
While Kelvin Kruschel’s deflected goal gave them hope for the closing stages after they had fallen 3-0 behind, a comeback was always a tall order against City and it wasn’t allowed to materialise.
Nevertheless, Duggan was full of praise for how his team did and he lamented the second City goal, a Dan Smith cross which looped into the net, as being the one which killed the Magpies’ challenge.
“I’m very proud of the lads,” he said.
“They’re a great bunch and they did themselves and the club proud tonight against a strong Cork City team. We’re all amateurs playing against full-times and I think maybe we gave them a bit too much respect early on, it probably cost us the first goal.
“After that, we got into the game and we were better. The lads did well and at half-time, 1-0, we were very positive and we told the lads to go at them.
“Unfortunately, it was a killer of a second goal, it was tough to take.
“The lads kept on going and it was nice to have something to show at the end.”
Duggan was also left saddened by the forced departure of Murray, though he hoped that it would not prove to be too serious an injury.
“That’s the biggest disappointment of the night,” he said.
“You never want to lose anyone to a serious injury, we don’t know yet but hopefully it won’t be too bad.”