Thursday 23 November 2017

Caulfield dampens Euro lottery jackpot talk

Caulfield: “Being blunt, the European reaction was over the top last year.
Caulfield: “Being blunt, the European reaction was over the top last year." Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Despite his rampant Cork City side continuing their ruthless deposition of SSE Airtricity League champions Dundalk, manager John Caulfield has dampened expectations that any side can hit the Euro millions jackpot this summer.

Last year Stephen Kenny led Dundalk to the group stages of the Europa League - and a bumper windfall just shy of €7m - but yet again witnessed a cherry-picking of his side's best talent and the player drain has caught up with them during the slump of their title defence.

Caulfield's men, who have confirmed their domestic credentials after waiting patiently in the wings for so long, had a more than decent run in the Europa League, banking nearly €700,000 before falling to eventual quarter-finalists Genk in the third qualifying round.

"Being blunt, the European reaction was over the top last year. People thinking teams can get to the group stages again are way off the mark," he said.

Experience

Dundalk have suffered most with transfers and injuries; at times this season they have been forced to play without the midfield and central defence that attracted so many new supporters 12 months ago.

"It was an amazing experience which captured the imagination of the wider public, twelve remarkable experiences and we want more of that," said the Dundalk boss, who has since witnessed Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle move on to Championship football and international recognition.

Dundalk, unluckily unseeded for the Champions League, will hope for a repeat tie with Iceland's Hafnarfjaroar while fierce foes BATE Borisov lurk along with Legia Warsaw, their conquerors last season, and the potential of a money-spinner against Celtic.

Cork, Shamrock Rovers and Derry are all unseeded for their Europa League draws and their priorities will be easy travel options and opposition; all would jump at a Crusaders tie or, indeed, a more lucrative spin to Glasgow's Rangers.

The Champions League qualifying draw begins at 11am in Lyon and will be streamed on UEFA.com; the draw for the first and second rounds of Europa League begin at midday.

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