Ian Maguire: We are improving, but are not the finished article

Last weekend’s comfortable victory in Carrick-on-Shannon maintained Cork’s perfect start to life in Division 3, the first time since 2015 the county has taken maximum points from their opening two league games.

Ian Maguire: We are improving, but are not the finished article

Ian Maguire is enjoying the welcome change of being part of a Cork football panel so upbeat this early in the season.

Last weekend’s comfortable victory in Carrick-on-Shannon maintained Cork’s perfect start to life in Division 3, the first time since 2015 the county has taken maximum points from their opening two league games.

Maguire, now six years on the inter-county scene, was part of the Cork team which fell, firstly, from Division 1 to 2 in 2016, before last year’s relegation to the league’s third tier. He knows what it is to face into championship off the back of a dispiriting and deflating league campaign.

And so while this year’s spring campaign still has a fair amount of road to travel before Cork’s stated aim of promotion can be achieved, the midfielder is nonetheless filled with optimism thanks to Cork’s smart opening.

“It is brilliant going into training when you have two wins on the trot, and you are still trying to improve things, rather than trying to fix things against the backdrop of losses or the negativity that has been around the place the last couple of years.

"There is a lot of confidence, and we will keep building,” the 25-year old asserted.

Not wanting to have their championship status solely dependent on the outcome of a Munster semi-final against Kerry, a swift return to Division 2 would close the door on Tier 2 involvement come summertime.

Of equal importance to Maguire is maintaining through the season the positive mindset permeating through the camp.

“Tier 2 aside, the last couple of years we have kinda rolled into championship off three bad months in the league. When you are training in December, you want to put in a good shift in January and February.

But the last couple of years that hasn’t happened, whereas this year, we are after getting two wins, we have mixed the good with the bad, but it is building confidence.

"The hope is that we keep slowly building confidence, rather than starting from scratch every April, which is what we have done for the last two or three years.

"Tier 2, obviously, that is a big thing weighing over your head. But you can’t really think about it, you just got to control your performances, keep winning, and then Tier 2 won’t be a problem. That is the way we are looking at it.”

Down, also unbeaten across their opening two league games, are the visitors to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday. A focus for Ronan McCarthy’s charges, as well as collecting the two points on offer, is improving their consistency within games.

“Against Leitrim, we again mixed the good with the bad. We scored some great points, but squandered goal chances. We are improving, but are not the finished article,” Maguire continued.

“What I find brilliant is that we finished our last two games very strong, which probably would have been our biggest negative in the championship last year. We finished games very poorly last year.

"You saw against Leitrim how our bench came on and kicked six points and we had a similar contribution to the Offaly game.

That just shows that we are improving on the weaknesses of last year.

Cork boss Ronan McCarthy, meanwhile, is keen for his players to put together a run of wins on home soil. He said:

“We want to build on the positive performance we had at home against Offaly. Our home record over the last couple of years has been very poor so it is important from our point of view to get points on the board but also, let’s try and get a run of wins at home so that we gain in confidence from having Páirc Uí Chaoimh as our home venue.

There is a good team coming down to play us, but we should really be up and ready for it.

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