TRIUMPHANT Cork boss John Caulfield hailed his players’ fighting spirit saying no other team in the country would have survived what the Leesiders had to suffer and endure this season with the double whammy of losing top scorer Seanie Maguire and Kevin O’Connor to Preston and club captain Johnny Dunleavy to a serious cruciate knee ligament injury.
And Maguire, O’Connor and Dunleavy all witnessed a historic day in Dublin in the club’s illustrious history, with the double secured.
“It’s fantastic and they are a bunch of real winners. You have to give it to the boys, you’re one down, tremendous determination and grit.
“At the same time, you need to dig in and the determination and the will to win and never give up has been phenomenal.
“You just have to admire these guys,” said Caulfield in the warm glow of victory.
“Things looked ominous for us when Niclas Vemmelund gave them the lead four minutes into extra-time but our equaliser from Achille Campion nine minutes from the end gave us the chance to re-write the history books. It wasn’t easy,” admitted Caulfield.
“We started well, the first 30 minutes were good and we had a chance to go ahead, maybe two. But in the second half we were on the back foot and hadn’t played well, but at the end, we could have won the match in normal time.
“In that first period of extra-time they were down on their knees. We tried to rally them to give it another go and in fairness, in the second period of extra-time we were good again and we took the game to Dundalk as best we could,” he added.
Caulfield felt that his team’s achievement was a little under-appreciated in some quarters given the loss of three key men including top scorer Seanie Maguire, who ended the season as league top scorer despite moving to Deepdale and Preston North End in the summer.
“All season they probably haven’t got the credit they deserve but to win a double is incredible and people might sit up and take note of us now,” added Caulfield before boarding the team bus for home.