John Caulfield: You need guys who are going to lay their hearts on the ground

The Cork City boss spoke to Oisin Langan after Sunday's clash

John Caulfield

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer 

John Caulfield praised the heart shown by his players after Sunday's late FAI Cup final victory over Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium.

The Premier Division runners-up scored late through star Sean Maguire and avenged their defeat in last year's final to the same opponents.

Speaking after the game, Caulfield highlighted the efforts that the players had put in during the year, and what the victory means for the club. 

"We made changes this year and brought new players in who are energetic and who have that will to win," he told Newstalk Sport's Oisin Langan.

"You need fellas who really want it. When you're in a 50-50 game and there's nothing in it, you need lads who are going to dig in. The game could have gone either way in added time. 

"You need guys who are going to lay their hearts on the ground. Those are ones we have. In last year's game, we realised we didn't have the same threat. We didn't have the same forward threat and we were playing off of set pieces. 

"This year was a case of thinking we were good enough to score, and we have a lot more energy about our side. Even today, the game looked like it was going to penalties but both teams were still going for the win."

John Caulfield acknowledges the travelling support after the final whistle. Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer 

Maguire was the primary difference between this year's side and the one that came second to Dundalk in both the league and the cup last year. Caulfield insists, however, bringing a young player like him into the fold was not a gamble.

"I always knew he was a good player. He had to put his head down and train hard. He's been phenomenal. He scored in the President's Cup at the start of the year, scored the winner today and has 29 goals for the season." 

Dundalk, coming off the back of a Europa League defeat to Zenit St Petersburg in Russia on Thursday night, enjoyed the better of the possession and chances in the opening half of the game.

"It looked like we were very nervous in the first half, I don't know why," said Caulfield. "I was happy to get in at halftime and have a chat with them. Thankfully we tore into the match and we were much better in the second half.

"Chiedoze [Ogbene] could have won the game, [Gary] Rogers made a fantastic save and he made another for Gearóid [Morrissey].

"We were totally dominant in the second half, which is typical of a real Cork City performance this season. As you can see for both teams, there really isn't anything between us.

"I've believed in these lads all year, and we were devastated after league defeats three or four weeks ago. We agreed today that we were going to leave everything on the pitch. That's all you can ask for.

"Dundalk are a phenomenal team and you read so much about them. It can make you feel a little bit inferior. Certainly, in the first half, we looked nervous. We had beaten them a couple of times in the year, so we knew if we played well we could do it."

The Cork City boss also had time to thank the travelling support, who stayed to cheer on their team long after the final whistle had been blown.

"I'm delighted for the supporters. Dundalk have won the title for the last couple of years, and they've been the big team to beat. We've been close before, but we haven't won the trophy. [Sunday]'s win will give us that belief. I hope the win will drive us on next year, and I think it will."