By Peter McNamara
When Don Davis was sporting the blood and bandage he did so among players with the most entrenched levels of resolve.
In his day, rarely, if ever, could you say a Cork footballer ‘went missing’ on a given day, be it in Killarney or Croke Park.
So it is fair to suggest he is in a position of knowledge when it comes to evaluating the present group’s character levels, an element regularly questioned by sceptical Leesiders and outsiders alike.
“I have said this before but it seems to have gotten lost on people, this group has a heightened steeliness about them I haven’t seen in a Cork team for a while,” Davis stressed. “They are genuinely a fantastic bunch of players and have an abundance of self-belief, individually and collectively.
“They have shown what they are made of consistently this season with the exception, maybe, of the league final against Dublin.
“As a group, we let ourselves down a bit that day but overall this year so far we have been happy with the strength of character we have shown.”
Any time you speak to Davis, you understand, more and more, why he was such a successful attacker himself, especially given the number of teak-tough defenders he would have had on his coat-tails.
The O’Donovan Rossa clubman takes everything in his stride and is not one for being ruffled by any outside influences. He carries on regardless and has a clear vision for how he wants Cork to succeed.
And he believes in the players unconditionally.
“There are not many teams that can go up to the north as many times as we did in the league this year and perform as we did.
“For instance, we went to Castleblayney and really battled for a win against a very, very decent side in Monaghan.
“I take on board it is the league but it still takes mental toughness and I would like to think we have that in spades.
“We know too though that we have to show it all over again tomorrow night,” he said.
Cork were praised (you don’t get to write those words often) for carrying the fight to Kerry a fortnight ago.
Afterwards, though, manager Brian Cuthbert had no interest in faint appreciation.
Davis, too, understands that producing a performance of substance against Kerry means little in isolation.
“Kerry-Cork matches, throughout the years, usually take on a life of their own and this replay will be no different.
“I played in ‘95 and remember it well. It would be absolutely brilliant to be part of another winning team in Killarney if we can achieve this goal.
“We’re all involved in football too long though to expect things to happen for us.
“We know we have to really make it happen but Kerry, obviously, will be thinking exactly the same thing.
“They are the defending provincial and All-Ireland champions for more than one reason and will be all guns blazing in Fitzgerald Stadium, no doubt,” Davis added.