John Caulfield may just be handed the freedom of Cork.
The current Cork City boss transformed the League of Ireland of side to such a degree that they are now mid celebrating top flight title success.
It’s a massive achievement that has endeared him to the county at large.
However, the former Cork striker has not just had an impact on the pro game in Cork. The talented coach, who will know get the chance to test himself in the Champions League enjoyed success at amateur level and breath new life into one club in particular.
Caufield was once the main man and Munster Senior League side Avondale and transformed the club an eight year stint there.
Caulfield took over a side in the second tier and pushed them side to promotion and beyond. In fact he oversaw back to back FAI Intermediate Cups from 2005-2007 and won two MSL top flight league titles during his reign. He also laid the foundations that would see the amateur side become the most feared Intermediate side in Ireland.
The manager of the current League of Ireland champions then moved to UCC and stepped back down to the MSL second tier. Caulfield was tasked with bringing back the glory days and while he won promotion-as champions- and the Collingwood Cup in his first season he didn’t quite have time to repeat his Avondale FAI Intermediate success.
His success at Cork City was obviously celebrated by both amateur teams and Avondale released a statement to the JSP to heap particular praise on their former boss.
Read the statement below:
Avondale United have shared a very close relationship with Cork City since the club was established in 1984. Indeed Cork City’s successful application to the League of Ireland was initially made under the title of Avondale through two Avondale officials – Jim Hennebry and Chris Herlihy. In an extraordinary coincidence the first competitive match that Cork City played was in a 2-0 win over Avondale in the Munster Senior Cup played at the old Flower Lodge grounds. Both clubs have enjoyed a very close relationship over many years and this was strengthened even further when John Caulfield was appointed as manager to Avondale United.
Everyone at Avondale has been keeping a watchful eye on the 2017 campaign and we were delighted to watch Cork City get the vital point at home to Derry City to clinch the League title. It was a thoroughly deserved victory which saw the team go on a terrific unbeaten run in the first half of the season. Avondale would like to convey their congratulations to everyone at Cork City following this amazing achievement and we wish them the very best in the FAI Cup Final.
When John Caulfield was appointed Avondale manager in the summer of 2002 the club was languishing in the bottom half of the MSL First Division. The team was underachieving for many years and not looking likely to advance to the Premier Division any time soon never mind challenge for honours. There are some similar parallels with John and the timing of his appointment as Cork City manager.
The appointment of Caulfield galvanised Avondale on and off the pitch and he raised the profile of the club immediately. He introduced a professional attitude which very few clubs at MSL level had seen previously. He was responsible for introducing a team of coaches, trainers, assistants and physios on the side-line which gave strength in numbers off the pitch. This is now common in most clubs at junior level but was unique at the time. The Avondale PRO Noel Long would often refer to “Caulfield’s Entourage” given the numbers on the line.
John demanded a dedication to training that the club had not previously experienced. Each session was meticulously planned and attendance was mandatory. John would always be first to arrive at training and everything would be ready and waiting for the players for the session ahead.
Committee member Chris Herlihy who was also part of the first Cork City committee recalls how impressed he was with John when they worked together at Cork City. Chris tells us that not only was John a terrific player but he was also a wonderful clubman and that he has City colours coursing through his blood.
While the results on the pitch were of most importance to John he also realised the importance of getting involved in club affairs. He always supported fundraising events and ensured that players contributed towards theirs subs and all fundraisers. He also took an interest in the youths and underage sections of the club and encouraged players to aspire to play on his teams.
The impact that John Caulfield has had on the club continues to be felt today. The standards set by him are still as relevant now as they were when he ran the senior team. These high standards have trickled down to the other teams in the club and the results are there for all to see.
Avondale Secretary Tom Mullane recognises the achievements by John and his team on the field in becoming the clubs most successful manager achieving back to back FAI Intermediate Cups in 2006 and 2007, followed by back to back Munster Senior Leagues in 2008 and 2009. Tom goes on to say that John’s impact on the club has established it as one of the real powerhouses in amateur football in Ireland and his influence has been immeasurable.
Club Treasurer Damian Counihan recalls how John always wanted the best for his team so that inevitably meant spending significant money on the playing pitch, the equipment, the pre- and post-match preparation and the travelling to and from matches played all over the country. John recognised the costs that were being incurred and would assist the club to secure sponsorship and participate in fundraising and would always be one of the first members to renew his membership. He was an absolute pleasure to work with according to Damian.
Finally, club Chairman David Madden would like to put on record his appreciation for all the work John Caulfield has done for football in Cork and particularly Avondale United. David is of the view that his “grass roots” focus is vital to the success of all the teams that John has been involved in. Avondale were fortunate that when John eventually left our club he had a number of individuals working under him learning the ropes who would go on to successfully manage Avondale. John Cotter is now assistant to Caulfield at Cork City but prior to this he managed another successful Avondale team. In the opinion of Chairman Madden, the success that Avondale have had since John’s departure is his legacy and it lives on today.