History and form are both stacked firmly against them but Mark Schutte believes Dublin can seize their second chance in the Championship and push for an unlikely All-Ireland triumph.
Clare, in 2013, and Tipperary, three years earlier, are the only teams to win the All-Ireland after coming through the qualifier series.
In fact, just five of the 19 All-Ireland winners since the back door was introduced in 1997 have failed to contest a provincial final along the way.
But Schutte, a powerful presence in Dublin’s attack, insisted their ambition to win the All-Ireland hasn’t changed despite going down heavily to Kilkenny in Leinster.
Dublin were in that game at half-time when they trailed by just a point but conceded 1-8 without reply after the restart to slip off the radar and lose by 12.
It will take Dublin five games at least if they are to capture the MacCarthy Cup in September and the first one is against Cork on Saturday at Pairc Ui Rinn.
“It’s really up to the leaders on the team now to step up and drive the team on,” said Schutte. “We can go one of two ways; we can either pack it in and just cry about what happened against Kilkenny or we can go back and have a good fight at it.
“Plenty of teams have gone on and won All-Irelands through the backdoor. That’s going to have to be our ambition, go and target this match and really get a bit of redemption after the Kilkenny game.
“Obviously everyone is disappointed the way that game ended and you don’t want to end your season like that. It’s great we have another chance to prove ourselves again. It’s great to get another shot at it and not leave the summer like on that performance in Portlaoise.”
Dublin haven’t beaten Cork in the Championship since the 1927 All-Ireland final, losing all eight of their meetings since, most recently the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final. But they did hammer 4-21 past Cork in the league last march and Schutte believes that performance, and their first-half display against Kilkenny, more accurately reflects their ability.
“I don’t think that second-half against Kilkenny was a true reflection of this Dublin team,” said Schutte, who is looking to return to the lineup after injury. “It was just that 10 or 15-minute spell after half-time. That obviously just killed us. If we could put that first-half together for the 70 minutes, that would be a good reflection of us.
“The first-half looked like it really took its toll on the lads. And Kilkenny are the masters. They’re non-stop, they’re relentless. We probably just didn’t match them for the 70 minutes. We probably just put it up to them for the 35. Then we died off.
“They pushed up on our puck-outs and broke us down a bit. They put the squeeze on and worked themselves into the game. In the first-half, we met them with an intensity and didn’t let them play. Then we probably stepped off them a little bit, which gave them space to breathe. If you step off Kilkenny in any way, they’ll hit you like they did with 1-8 in 15 minutes.”
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