Caulfield and Kenny square off in Friday night showdown

Former Ireland and current St. Pat's manager Stephen Kenny will renew his rivalry with Galway United boss John Caulfield on Friday night. The pair have a storied history in the Irish Premier 
division. Pictured here are the two men on the line as Dundalk and Cork City managers in 2014.

Former Ireland and current St. Pat's manager Stephen Kenny will renew his rivalry with Galway United boss John Caulfield on Friday night. The pair have a storied history in the Irish Premier division. Pictured here are the two men on the line as Dundalk and Cork City managers in 2014.

John Caulfield and Stephen Kenny renew rivalries in Inchicore tomorrow night as Galway United travel to St. Pat’s in rude health, unbeaten in nine games.

It is an unavoidable narrative, but not one that overly interests John Caulfield. Speaking to The Galway Advertiser, Caulfield said: “Really, that’s more of a media thing. We’ve moved on with our respective careers. We were neck and neck for five or six years. That was a different era.

“He is going into Pat’s. He has a five-and-a-half-year contract. He is massively financially backed by Garret Kelliher which is brilliant for our league. We are a different project in Galway. We come up against each other, but we are in totally different scenarios.

“We go into Pat’s pleased with the start of the season. They were one of the title favourites and halfway through the season we are ahead of them. Now Stephen Kenny has come in. The highest paid manager in the history of the League of Ireland. It is fantastic to have him back in the league”.

It is remarkable that United have a seven-point cushion over their more illustrious opponents with two games less played. They are only a point adrift of Shamrock Rovers, who they were due to play on the Bank Holiday Monday. However, this game has been postponed owing to international call-ups for the Hoops.

The more salient gap before last Friday's fixture was of that to the bottom. United pulled 15 points clear of Dundalk with a comprehensive 2-0 win at home to the Louth side last Friday in Eamonn Deacy Park. Goals from corners in either half sealed a solid display from the hosts and one which pleased their boss.

“I think overall we looked very solid. Dundalk had a good bit of possession, but I thought we defended quite well. They didn’t create a lot. Getting the first goal is important, but we needed the second goal which Maurice [Nugent] got.

“I think in the last two weeks, playing teams around you like Drogheda and Dundalk we needed to pull away more from them and thankfully we have done that”.

The coach gave glowing praise to Nugent, whose performances in midfield have been a revelation. He has scored three in his last four, all in games United have gone on to win. He was also quick to point out the strength of the group and how they have adapted from the First Division.

“Last season showed us what good personnel we have and what good lads we have. First and foremost, they are really good people. We knew we wanted to recruit some players but we wanted to keep the core of the group that got promoted because they deserved the opportunity. We also felt that they could handle the step up”.

“To have last year’s squad doing what they’re doing shows that there aren’t a lot of changes that we need but there are certain areas that we do need to strengthen. We will certainly assess with the window coming up what we have to do. In the attacking areas, we are probably a little lighter than we would like to be”.

This comment from the manager with half an eye on the looming mid-season break and transfer window is indicative of the driving of standards around the club. Shifting the culture has always been part of the manager’s agenda.

He summed this up, capturing a mindset that has been longed for in Galway for years. “You’d have to acknowledge the tremendous heart and character in the team and the real togetherness between the supporters and the team. I think people now realise that Galway United are not a soft touch. People aren’t going to roll into Galway and think that they are going to get an easy three points. That’s what I tried to change a few years ago”.

This has clearly been achieved. What can be achieved off the back of this foundation is another question.

 

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