“If you look at any of the games, even on Saturday night, the middle eight players are crucial in terms of your set-up. The number on their back doesn’t seem to matter anymore, you need huge mobility and I think we have that”, the Cork manager declared after another good start to the Allianz Football League.
“It’s a case of setting your stall out in games and playing a certain way. That was a lesson we learned last year, we went through the league and everything was rosy playing a certain way — it was 2-20 to 1-19, but then you get to championship and it was what it was.
“Teams now have the capability of playing three or four different ways. In terms of the teams you’ll face in Division One, it’s a necessity you have to play different styles of football. You need good players for that and I think we have good players.”
This time last year the Cork man was cock-a-hoop after a bright opening to the League. This time around, he’s offering context: “How much can you read into games like this?
“Dublin came down minus how many players, 10? We’re minus five or six of our main players. You can read whatever you want into the game. Next week, it’ll be something else, it’s all building towards championship.
“But there’s still a lot of satisfaction. When Dublin came at us at the start of the second half, it could have been a three-or four-point win for them and you’d feel disillusioned they came down without key players and got the victory. The last 20 minutes, I felt that we were in complete control and it’s a good way to win a game.”
Cuthbert name-checked two of his younger starlets, Conor Dorman from his own club (Bishopstown) and St Finbarrs’ Ian Maguire, adding: “I’d like to think that, throughout the game, we played decent enough football. The team knew they had to win the game. The way the national league works, you have these two games and then a break of three weeks, so momentum can be easily broken. Something we learned last year, and it’s a cliché, but you move forward.
“You saw Tyrone (on Saturday night), they had a bad performance but I can guarantee they’ll have plenty of good performances before the League is out.
Cuthbert dismissed the notion of any hangover arising from the McGrath Cup loss to Waterford: “These pre-season competitions are part of training, you want to win matches, but it’s about national league, developing the team and getting them ready for championship. If you ask any of the players inside there, I’d say Waterford is a distant memory.”
That dressing room should have Michael Shields back next Sunday, while Noel Galvin continues to recover from a back problem. His Ballincollig colleague Paddy Kelly has three weeks pre-season training now under his belt, while Daniel Goulding has just returned from Australia. Donncha O’Connor missed yesterday’s game with a rib injury.”