BY JOHN O’SHEA
JOHN Caulfield denied his old club Cork City on his return to Turner’s Cross last Friday night.
The Cork City FC legend was back on familiar soil when he brought his Galway United team to his old stomping ground for this First Division clash.
Caulfield’s men were four points ahead of City in the table ahead of kick-off and they maintained that gap with a 1-1 draw thanks to Maurice Nugent's last-minute header for the away side who played most of the contest with ten men after a Stephen Walsh sending off.
For Caulfield, he was happy to return to Turner’s Cross, a ground that has brought him so many great memories as a player and a manager.
‘It was fantastic to be back. It was great to walk through the gates, I had so many great memories here,’ said Caulfield, who has lived in Enniskeane since the mid-1980s and was also inducted into the Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Sports Star Hall of Fame.
‘It would have been fantastic if there was a crowd, but it was great to meet everyone and great to be back.’
Last Friday night, City took the lead through a strike from on-loan Preston man Jack Baxter – and it looked like it was going to secure the victory for the hosts. But scoring goals in the dying stages of games has been a regular habit for Galway, perhaps an indication of the never-say-die attitude in this Caulfield side.
During his time as City boss, Caulfield’s passion was clear to see by the enthusiasm he showed on the sideline. Those of us in the media who were lucky to attend this behind-closed-doors First Division clash saw those traits that Caulfield has brought to his role in Galway.
With former Cork City man Conor McCormack showing leadership for the West of Ireland side on the field, it was also evident that Caulfield had this Galway side primed to battle right until the very end.
In the second half Padraic Cunningham saw an effort go narrowly wide for Galway before Mikey Place had a strike from distance saved by Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty.
While Carlton Ubaezunou thought he had equalised for Galway, his celebrations were cut short as the linesman flagged for offside. But Galway got their goal in the dying stages with Nugent’s leveller.
‘It was a very peculiar game,’ Caulfield said, ‘It looked like a night we weren’t going to get a result but the lads kept going and got a fantastic equaliser. It’s a great point under the circumstances.
‘I have said all along that there is a tremendous character in this team. We dealt very well with being a man down and the lads deserved the draw.
‘The players worked their socks off and showed great attitude and great spirit. Maybe the team needs a bit more belief in themselves as they have a lot of quality.
‘I have to look back on the red card as it was frustrating. The most important thing is that the lads got the goal at the end and earned us the draw. We go to Shelbourne next which will be another tough game.’
With one third of the First Division campaign now played, Caulfield will be reasonably pleased with where Galway currently sit in the table. They are only three points off second-placed UCD, and there are just three points separating second place to seventh in the First Division.
As he left Turner’s Cross last Friday night, Caulfield has Galway well primed to challenge for their main target of promotion to the Premier Division. For Colin Healy’s City, they stay eighth in the table and have work to do.