Cronin, who was given debuts at both minor and senior level by Cuthbert, feels that it was up to the players to perform better against Kildare despite the unexpected All-Ireland qualifier loss coming just six days after they fell to Kerry in the provincial final replay.
Cork exited the 2015 championship following that second loss in a week, with an eight-point defeat to Kildare following a Munster final replay defeat to Kerry.
Both setbacks featured below-par performances from the side and Bishopstown clubman Cuthbert decided against putting his name forward for a third year in charge. But Cronin says Cuthbert’s contribution to Cork football was significant.
“A lot of fellas would say he prepared us the best they’ve been prepared,” Cronin said of his former manager.
“Even when they won the All-Ireland, they said the most they were prepared was for last year’s Munster final. They had never been prepared so much for a game.
“In a way he’s taken a lot of blame that he shouldn’t have taken. It was all down to the players when it came down to it. He prepared us right, he did everything right. From the word go from my time in there, it was spot on. Even actually my first year minors, he was our manager as well and everything was done completely brilliant.
I’ve nothing but praise for the man. He gave me a go at minor and at senior as well. I’ve a lot to thank him for.”
Cronin has immersed back into the intercounty set-up after a gruelling six months spell on the sidelines after fracturing his tibia and fibula while in action for Nemo Rangers in a senior league match against Clonakilty.
The 19-year-old had burst onto the senior football squad last summer, nailing down a defensive spot in his senior championship debut against Clare.He will be an integral part of the Rebel outfit who play Kerry in the EirGrid Munster U21FC final at Austin Stack Park on April 7.
He admits there is pressure on that fixture — and on the senior team too.
“Definitely. We’ve a new management in (senior level). We’re getting all the chances we need, all the resources we need. All the training has been done. The National League has had a lot of ups and downs as well. (It has been) Probably stereotypical of Cork football at the moment.
“The lads are working very hard to try and get it right. They’re looking at Down on Sunday. They’ve put a good win on the board now. They need to follow it up with another one, then see where it goes I suppose. The main thing they’re building towards championship the whole time.”
Meanwhile, Roscommon U21 and senior star Ultan Hanley says he hasn’t been surprised by the county senior team’s progress this season.
“I always felt for the last year or two, and last year when I was involved, I’ve always felt looking in we have the players,” he said. “From playing and against lads at minor the last couple of years, I couldn’t see how other teams could be so much better than us.
“I was thinking that we just need to get it together. I suppose we were hoping just to stay up (in Division One) and fight, we knew it was going to be tough but I suppose we didn’t see it panning out the way we are now, sitting second in the table. Then again I’m not too surprised in a way, I know we’re capable of being where we are.”
And just days before the crucial Connacht derby which will determine Mayo’s NFL fate, Hanley says little has been made of the fact that Kevin McStay could have been Mayo manager for this fixture, had he been handed the role he wanted at the time following James Horan’s retirement.
“Well, some of the Roscommon people and those in media are bringing that up but Kevin hasn’t mentioned it at all. He’s created a great buzz. The support at all the games — against Kerry and Cork the Roscommon supporters outnumbered the home fans which was great to see.”
Hanley will be a pivotal part of the Roscommon side in their upcoming EirGrid Connacht U21FC final clash against Mayo, but is ripping to play in Sunday’s senior clash with them first.
“We’re still not sure if the U21s are playing but the relationship is great between the senior management and the U21 so they’ll sort it out.
“You’d be wanting to get a shot at playing this one,” he laughed. “You always feel you could do without a game but when the big games come around you want to be part of it.”