“We were always going to test our panel in the first two games and give lads opportunities,” said Cuthbert. “We had ropey periods at times today but you have to walk away from it very happy because now we have guys who’ve played for the first time in the league and did quite well in both games.”
Cork’s spring schedule has been kind in terms of giving them that vital ingredient — momentum. Two home games before they venture to meet Dublin at the beginning of next month has offered a stable environment to get things off the ground.
“In the second half, we played very controlled football,” agreed Cuthbert. “We troubled them and we could have got five goals. The fact we didn’t have the hurlers, or Michael Shields, was a test for the squad with Kildare coming off the back of beating Mayo, scoring 2-19. It’s exciting being involved with them because they’re young, enthusiastic and they’re giving it everything.”
Defenders Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), Noel Galvin, Alan Cronin and Conor Dorman all looked composed — Nemo lad Cronin looks a genuine corner-back prospect — giving Cork a squad approaching 40 players.
“This is our league squad, being honest about it,” said Cuthbert, “I don’t think there’s too many other guys outside of what we have. We are finding our feet. It’s a new team and there will be some good days and some bad days. We’ve got to stay behind them and believe in them.”
Ryan is of the same mind about his Kildare regeneration.
“The county board was very supportive of us coming down yesterday [Saturday] and preparing in the right manner but we didn’t play as well as we did last week [against Mayo]. Our execution wasn’t good.”
The better side in the first period, the Lilies saw the points slip away from them in the third quarter: “It’s mistakes and errors — if you do five good things and two bad things, unfortunately the latter two cause problems and in Division 1, you can’t afford to make those mistakes. Cork are a mobile side, and when they come at you, if you’re not set up the way you should be, you’ll be under pressure.
“We went in at half-time winning, but early in the second period we let them get away from us and never managed to reel them back in. Our execution wasn’t good enough.”
He accepted that with Tyrone next up, a side they lost three times to last season, the response to this setback would be interesting.
“We are very much in transition. A lot of the senior lads, the spine of the team are not going to around for a while, so we need to get as many points as fast as we can in the league. These young lads are very impressionable, they’ll take a hit from today. Luckily, now we have a couple of weeks before we play Tyrone.”