Cork, the holders of the Munster pre-season competition, begin their campaign against Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College in Mallow tomorrow (2pm).
Cuthbert and his selectors have opted for a team which mixes new faces with more established ones as he casts one eye towards the start of the Allianz Football League against Dublin in Páirc Uí Rinn on February 1.
“There’s a bit of both to it,” he said, “giving guys opportunities and then making sure that the players already on the panel get game-ready. We’re playing Dublin in the first league game and, if it’s like last year, when we got to the McGrath Cup final, that would bring us right up to then and help bring players up to the level. That worked well for us then and we managed to find a few players who stayed on the panel for the league.”
Cuthbert and his selectors do at least have the benefit of having a year’s experience behind them while the panel hasn’t undergone the massive surgery of a year ago, when a number of high-profile players retired.
“Things are a lot more settled,” he agreed, “so you’re just looking to build on that. With college commitments and injuries, we’re missing about 14 or 15 players, so there are 12 or 13 who have come in. You fill the gaps then with other players. We’ll be keeping an eye on the players playing with the colleges too, though we’d have a fair idea about them already.”
While coach Ronan McCarthy has departed due to work commitments, there are no new selectors to add to Don Davis, Owen Sexton and Ciarán O’Sullivan, though Pat Flanagan is on board as a strength and conditioning coach. “There aren’t any other changes to be made at the moment,” Cuthbert said.
CORK (SF V Mary Immaculate College): K O’Halloran (Bishopstown); L Jennings (Ballincollig), S O’Donoghue (Ballincollig), N Galvin (Ballincollig); D Hazel (O’Donovan Rossa), P Hodnett (Carbery Rangers), J O’Sullivan (Bishopstown); F Goold (Macroom), M Cussen (Glanmire); K O’Driscoll (Tadgh MacCarthaigh), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), G Durrant (Ballincollig); F Ó Deasuinaigh (Bishopstown), J Hayes (Carbery Rangers), B Hurley (Castlehaven).
Subs: R Price (O’Donovan Rossa), E Cadogan (Douglas), M Shields (St Finbarrs), J Loughrey (Mallow), T Clancy (Clonakilty), M Collins (Castlehaven), C O’Driscoll (Tadgh MacCarthaigh), D O’Connor (Ballydesmond), C O’Neill (Ballyclough).