JOHN Caulfield admitted that he had his worries when planning to face Derry City on Friday night.
The loss of central defenders Alan Bennett and John Dunleavy presented him with a significant problem, but when he learned that Derry's top striker, Rory Patterson, was in back in the team, the Cork boss was concerned.
"I was worried about this particular game," said Caulfield after the match. "Derry are a decent side. They have good quality in their ranks and while they may have lost out in Bray, they had gone on a 10 games unbeaten run which must be respected," he added.
"They had their talisman back against us, in fact, they were probably fielding their strongest team since the sad passing of Ryan McBride so yes, I was concerned as would be fielding without a few top players and we had a few of our '19s' on the bench."
And falling behind to Barry McNamee's superb strike after 17 minutes didn't help matters, but the Cork boss again heaped praise on his playing staff for their determination and their ability to take responsibility.
"I have to admit that I was disappointed that we had not entered the break further in front," said Caulfield. "We actually started the match on fire and that pleased me. Stephen Dooley, who played really well on the night, could have had three goals in the opening half.
"Of course, we conceded a goal, they moved ahead which I felt was against the run of play but, thankfully, our lads showed great resilience and determination to get back into the game. They played well, put together some great passages of play and deservedly scored a second goal which put us back on top," he added.
Having looked comfortable after the break, Cork appeared to be happy to sit back, inviting Derry forward and then hitting on the break with the pace of both Dooley and Sean Maguire.
However, the agreed that the dismissal of Jimmy Keohane, would alter his tactics significantly.
"The sending off changed the game," admitted Caulfield.
"We found ourselves on the back foot. Yes, we managed to weather a storm and Derry forced their way forward, but I have to say that Mark (McNulty) was not overly troubled at that stage. He didn't have too many saves to make until the latter stage when he certainly stepped up to the plate.
"I felt Derry may have played in front of us, but they seemed to run out of ideas when attempting to break us down. Our players rose to the challenge. We were organised and disciplined and to hold out was excellent. This was yet another a big result for us and it has come at a good time as we now have to play for a trip to Estonia and our challenge in the Europa League.
"It really is another massive result for us. We had a big result last week, but we were playing at home. We had to make our longest trip this week and we managed to secure another three points against a decent team at a very difficult venue.
"Add in the fact that Rory Patterson was back in the Derry City squad and he was starting the game, our win was all the more credible. It's another big win for us and full credit to the squad for their effort and determination.
"These lads have been displaying these qualities all season. We knew we would be involved in a very dangerous game, but our lads had been fantastic this year. They are prepared to take on responsibility, step up to the plate and display great determination.
"This squad is very fit and has great strengths. We need that in these type of matches and, once again, we have successfully come through a big test of our character and I'm absolutely delighted with that," concluded Caulfield.