John Caulfield thinks Dundalk are "miles ahead" of the rest of the league

The Cork City manager was speaking to Newstalk Sport ahead of the new League of Ireland season

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Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Cork City are widely seen as the pretenders to Dundalk's League of Ireland throne this season.

John Caulfield's side have finished second in the Premier Division for the past two seasons behind Dundalk. They were also on the wrong side of a cup final defeat to Dundalk in the Aviva Stadium in November.

The Turners Cross side have recruited strongly in the off-season with players like Kenny Browne, Sean Maguire and Greg Bolger joining the club. Gearoid Morrissey also rejoined the club after a spell in England with Cambridge United.

Speaking to Newstalk Sport at the SSE Airtricity League launch in the Aviva Stadium, Caulfield revealed that the team have gotten over the disappointments of last season's conclusion.

Cork's John Dunleavy and President Michael D Higgins with the President's Cup. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ciaran Culligan

"We will go into the season with more determination. We changed our team around a bit. We're really looking forward to it because there is a massive challenge ahead of us. Dundalk have set the bar. We know how difficult it's going to be, but we have tried to address areas that will make us better."

Cork remain the second-favourites to win the league, but Caulfield reckons that Dundalk are "miles ahead" of the rest of the league. "The only player they have lost out of the first team is (Richie) Towell. They've kept everyone else. They had the best defensive record. They're overwhelming favourites, so the challenge of the rest of us is to see if we can match them."

Caulfied added that there was "no doubt" that if a team finished ahead of Dundalk this season, they would be League chmapions. In what may be a precursor to battles between the teams throughout the season, Cork City won the season's first trophy when they defeated Dundalk in the President's Cup on Saturday.

The Rebel Army will be hoping they lift another trophy in Turners Cross in October.