DOMESTIC home defeats are rare for Cork City these days – last Friday’s 2-1 reversal at home to Sligo Rovers was the first league defeat at Turner’s Cross since Sligo won 1-0 just over a year previously.
City manager John Caulfield acknowledges that, with the greater focus on the team on Leeside compared to what other clubs experience, the squad face more pressure to respond when things do go against them. For City, that starts with Friday night’s FAI Cup quarter-final away to Longford Town.
“It’s really about being able to handle and to deal with the criticism,” he said.
“Ultimately, most of this season and last season and the season before, they were used to getting praise and that’s great, because they deserve it and they’re brilliant players.
“At the same time, if the results don’t go for you, you have to be able to take it. You can be blaming your luck and blaming this and that but ultimately it’s up to every individual to stand up and be counted.
“They’re great guys but Cork is the biggest club with the biggest club and most media coverage, you’re under a lot of pressure. While you might take the plaudits, when it doesn’t go well you have to take it on the chin and that can be a culture shock if you’re not used to that exposure.
“You either do that and become stronger or you fall away, but from what I’ve seen from this group, we’ll be back to basics on Friday night. Again, I’m sure Longford see this as a fantastic opportunity for them.”
No Cork club has ever won the cup three years running – Cork Hibernians went back-to-back in 1972 and ’73 but City are the only other team to retain it. Caulfield isn’t getting carried away just yet, though.
“We’re still a long way from that,” he says, “we’re in the quarter-finals and we have a chance to get to the semi-finals.
“If you look at where the club was five years ago to where we are now, we’ve got to three cup finals in a row and it’s nearly like people expect you to get to the Aviva, whereas in my career, if you got there once in 10 years you were doing well.
“Certainly, the last two years have whetted the appetite, it’s phenomenal the way it has worked out, to win back-to-back. We’re one step away from a semi-final but if we don’t play to our best or if we’re sloppy like we were the other night, we won’t get through, it’s as simple as that.
“That’s what we’ve spoken about this week.”
But, while there is a game to be won, Caulfield is likely to give opportunities to the players who have featured in the previous rounds.
“To be fair to the lads who played against Home Farm and Maynooth, all those boys feel they should be in the team, bar the U19s who came in.
“Certainly, we will make changes, which is only right because there are guys who have been on the bench and they need to play and they feel it’s an opportunity they deserve, which they do.
“At the end of the day, it’s the quarter-final of the cup, we’re going there to win the match but there will be changes.”