Caulfield plans to 'build a new team' after a tough year

There will be no time for John Caulfield to dwell on the pain of a missed FAI Cup final.

The last time he tasted defeat at the Aviva Stadium – after a 2015 loss to Dundalk – he went away and embarked on a rebuilding project over the winter.

He spoke in similar language after this reverse, with a host of players expected to leave and Caulfield looking to freshen up his dressing room, although a reduced budget presents a significant challenge.

“We have to build a new team,” said Caulfield, before giving a nod to Dundalk’s superior resources.

“We’re not in a position to give long-term contracts. I understand the whole scenario, I’m not moaning. In the next few weeks, I’ll be hoping to bring in some players.”

A number of Caulfield’s squad are out of contract and he indicated that he expects the majority to depart.

That contingent includes Kieran Sadlier, who has offers both at home and from England. Squad players Barry McNamee and Johnny Dunleavy are certain to depart, while Steven Beattie – a loss yesterday due to injury – is expected to go to America.

Left-full Shane Griffin is another to go, while Josh O’Hanlon has been frozen out in recent weeks.

It’s been a challenging time for the Leesiders, with Caulfield coming under some pressure, yet he mounted a defence of his own tenure.

“To be honest, I understand a lot of people wouldn’t have grá for myself or for Cork. I don’t get involved in that, it doesn’t bother me,” he said.

“All I know is that I’ve done my best. You go back five years and you had a new management team that had never managed in the league before.

“It’s a results business and you live by results. Over the last number of years we’ve been in the top two and done very well. If my face doesn’t fit then so be it. In the League of Ireland you’ve got to work hard and that’s the way it is.

“We started out hoping to retain two trophies. We came second in both; we’re disappointed. Was there a massive difference between the teams? I don’t think there was.”

Veteran centre-half Alan Bennett is under contract for another year and felt that Cork’s performance in this final compared favourably with the previous three.

“It’s probably one of our best performances over the last four,” he said.

“Even though we probably didn’t create many chances in the general game, I thought we were hit with a bit of a sucker punch. We got caught at a bad moment.

“But the group is quite strong, you saw that today, we went down and we got back to 1-1. We’ll be back. That is the culture of this club.”

Bennett does anticipate a winter of change, albeit with his own position quite secure.

“I will speak to John, but I am contracted for next season,” he said.

“That’s the nature of the game, people will move on, people will come in. It’s important that we get it together as quick as possible and get going as quick as possible.”

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