In Cork’s last top-level competitive game, the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Mayo in August, Brian Hurley and Colm O’Neill scored 1-10 of their 2-15.
That pair – and nine other starters from that match – are back in place for tomorrow’s Allianz Football League Division 1 opener against Dublin in Páirc Uí Rinn. The third man in the full-forward line is Donal Óg Hodnett.
The O’Donovan Rossa player impressed hugely in his 2014 debut season. Now he is ready to make the next step.
“The more you play with good players, the better it is for your,” he said of his attacking colleagues. “I try to learn from them as much as I can, they’re a dream to play alongside. What people mightn’t see on TV is the work they do off the ball. It all helps to make things a bit easier. From working together in training, you begin to get to know each other’s movements and that can only be a good thing.”
Cork must travel to play the four Ulster sides in Division 1 – Derry, Donegal, Monaghan and Tyrone – so there is an imperative to maximise the return from the three home games.
“You’re expected to win your home games and with the four away matches against the Ulster teams that’s even more important,” Hodnett said.
“We know what Dublin will bring, they’ll be strong and physical and athletic. Last year we went up to Croke Park and we robbed them so they’ll want to do the same to us.
“The fact that it is Dublin we’re playing means that a strong team was always going to be picked.
“I’d say it was tough for the selectors because a lot of fellas had their hands up but that’s exactly what you want and I’d imagine that the competition will stay strong, everyone will be on their toes.”
Another motivation for Cork will be that this is the first match since losing to Waterford in the McGrath Cup semi-final.
“The mood in the camp was positive beforehand and I don’t think it has got any worse since then,” he explained.
“You’re disappointed with losing, obviously, but there wouldn’t be any point in letting yourself get too down over it. It would have been nice to go on and give a few more players a chance of games.
“We tried not to dwell on it too much. That match is gone now and the focus has to be on Dublin and the league.”
Given the make-up of the Rebels’ schedule, trying to determine what would be a good league campaign or a bad one is fraught with uncertainty at this stage.
“We do have some difficult fixtures, so it’s hard to set a target beforehand,” Hodnett said. “It’s a cliché I know but all we can do is look at each game, first Dublin, then Monaghan and so on.
“If you did get a few wins, then you can start talking about targets.”
K O’Halloran (Bishopstown); Tomás Clancy (Fermoy), Tom Clancy (Clonakilty), J Loughrey (Mallow); J O’Sullivan (Bishopstown), E Cadogan (Douglas), B O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh); F Goold (Macroom), I Maguire (St Finbarr’s); M Collins (Castlehaven), D O’Connor (Ballydesmond), C O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh); C O’Neill (Ballyclough), D Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), B Hurley (Castlehaven).
Subs: D Hanrahan (Douglas), C Dorman (Bishopstown), D Hazel (O’Donovan Rossa), S O’Donoghue (Ballincollig), M Cussen (Glanmire), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), J Hayes (Carbery Rangers), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), B O’Driscoll (Nemo Rangers), K O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh).