But Caulfield’s tired of ‘poor mouth’ attitude
Even if their Champions League dream ends in Poland tonight, as expected, Cork City will still have a presence in Europe with a back-door entry into the Europa League.
However, as he assesses the size of the task ahead of him in trying to overturn a 1-0 deficit and inflict a shock on Legia Warsaw, Cork boss John Caulfield admits that clubs like his are a long, long way away from being able to challenge at this level.
On the field, it's a big ask for Cork to get past Legia and into the second qualifying round, even though history is (partly) on their side as Dundalk and St Patrick's Athletic both earned a score draw away to Legia at this stage of the Champions League.
Legia were strong in Cork last week but since then they have added Spanish striker Carlitos and Poland's World Cup players Michal Pazdan and Artur Jedrzejczyk, as all three were rested for the first leg.
"I'm under no illusions, this is very difficult. The players are brave and will give their all, but we have to be realistic, we're playing a team which is far superior," said Caulfield. "We think we can get opportunities to score, but if we concede early on we've no chance."
Since their arrival on Sunday night, delayed due to issues with their plane, the Cork contingent could only look on in awe at Legia and their 32,000 capacity home, with corporate entertainment, retail and training facilities, as well as an outstanding club museum, which no club in Ireland could dream of matching.
And all this against a backdrop where Cork's next opponents in the league, Bray Wanderers, face the biggest crisis in their history.
"We don't have an industry in our country, you can see that across the water. Wages in League Two are superior to ours and that's the biggest challenge and the biggest disappointment we have," Caulfield pointed out.
"That has never been tackled. I have been in the League of Ireland for 40 years and there has never been that level of progression. We have had a flash in the pan, teams doing well at times but never what you'd call a sustained spell.
"Until we have an industry in Ireland you will never have a sustainable league as we are always the poor mouth. Bray is not a good story for our domestic league. We have brilliant players at this club and other players in the league can't get their wages."