GALWAY United manager John Caulfield has hailed Cork City as “worthy champions” after Colin Healy’s side moved 10 points clear at the top of the First Division on Friday night.
City’s dramatic 2-1 win away to third-placed Waterford coupled with Galway’s 1-1 draw away to Cobh Ramblers, who were leading up until the 95th minute, saw the Rebel Army strengthen their grip on the title and the only automatic promotion place.
The Leesiders now have the chance to seal their return to the Premier Division when they travel to Galway next Friday night but after Galway dropped two crucial points at St Colman’s Park, Caulfield insisted City will be champions regardless of what happens at Eamonn Deacy Park.
“To be honest, City will be worthy champions when they win the league,” admitted Caulfield.
“I congratulate Colin because it’s a tough situation. We are in the First Division, he found it tough last year, City invested well this year and with the crowd you want City in the Premier Division and good luck to them.
“I’m manager of Galway so we are trying to create something here, we have new owners taking over at the end of the season so we are trying to get to the next level but it is difficult.
“We have a number of games before the play-offs so it’s more important for me to see can we get our form back.
“We just need to win a game. That’s what we will be trying to do over the next few weeks. I think City are worthy champions.
“At the end of the day, they have more or less led from the start. We have been with them for a long part of the season but in the final seven, eight, nine games when you need to stay in there we haven’t got the results that we needed to get.
“When you come down here you have to be very good because it is always a difficult place, tight pitch.
“I think definitely in the first 25 minutes we had lots of chances. We hit the post, I think we had nine shots.
“Cobh get a free kick, score directly from 40 yards - Kearns misjudges it - and it has just been like that for the last four or five weeks for us, unfortunately.
“In the second half, we didn’t do enough I felt - we didn’t play enough - and to be fair to Cobh they were hanging on for the win.
“But we had a couple of chances in the second half to equalise earlier than we did so we have to get our act together for the playoffs.”