There is something quietly impressive about John Caulfield. Faced with a barrage of microphones at his unveiling as the new Cork City manager on Tuesday evening, the former Avondale and UCC boss was grilled about his credentials having been handed his first managerial job within the League of Ireland.
Caulfield played under 10 different managers during his 16-year stint with the Leesiders (three times under Noel O’Mahony), and is the first local to take the reins of the club’s senior team since Liam Murphy over a decade ago. The ex-striker holds a host of additional club records, but knows that life should never be lived in the past.
“I have a long association with the club as a player, but as a manager that will mean nothing,” he insisted. “I’m well aware of the task ahead. I will leave no stone unturned and I know how difficult it’s going to be, but I’m optimistic that with hard work and bringing local players through, we can be successful.
“I’ve lived for the day that I would get this chance. I’m just delighted that FORAS have given me the opportunity. I believe I can bring the club to a higher level and win trophies, and that’s what I'm aiming to do.”
Caulfield has already confirmed that former Avondale United boss, John Cotter, will be part of his new backroom team. The new gaffer will speak to the rest of the club’s coaches and players in the coming days as thoughts immediately turn to 2014.
“We’ve finished sixth over the last two seasons, but we haven’t really challenged for any trophies. When I walk around this city and county, I see people that are really passionate about Cork City, but they don’t go to games anymore.
“There were periods in my career when Turner’s Cross was a horrible place for teams to come; there were also times when it was too nice. I’m very clear on the way I want to the situation to be next season. I believe this club is waiting to erupt again. I hope I’m the man to lead that, and I’d like everyone to row in behind the players, and help them drive on. I want to see us competing in the top four. Do I see us winning trophies? Yes, I do.”
Speaking exclusively to ExtraTime.ie, Caulfield, who will officially begin his new full-time role on January 1st, insisted that the League has changed for the better despite the challenges faced by clubs on a season-to-season basis.
“Facilities are much better than when I was playing," he explained. "The players look after themselves far more, and the opportunities are bigger. People can see that the League of Ireland is a decent league. If you’re spotted here and you’re doing well, you have a chance to secure something across the water. Of course, we want to keep all of our players, but a couple will always go, which is fine as long as clubs get proper money.
“The pool of players is smaller here in Cork than in Dublin. The travelling side of things is also huge, though the roads are much better than they were 20 years. However, if we get enough Cork players through, they will play for the jersey and for their own people instead of going from club to club every season. The more we promote from within and develop talent that is good enough, the better we will be.”