Cuthbert: No need to panic yet
ONE of three fresh faces on the backroom team, Brian Cuthbert would obviously have been hoping for a more auspicious start in his new role.
But the former Cork minor coach refuses to entertain the notion that that the Rebels' bid for a fourth consecutive National Football League title has been irreparably dented as a result of the defeat by Kildare last Saturday night.
On the contrary, the Bishopstown clubman contends there is still an awful lot to play for, and he remains fairly optimistic regarding Cork's prospects of making the play-offs.
"If you think about it, Cork lost a few games as well over the course of the last three campaigns, and we still ended up as league winners, although admittedly we didn't lose our opening two matches before. But there is absolutely no need to panic as I see it, because no team can expect to go through the entire league in Division 1 without dropping a few points along the way," he stated.
Revealing that a lot of work had been put in last week with the aim of getting things right following a disappointing display against Dublin in Round 1, Cuthbert said there were mitigating reasons for the way things panned out against Kildare.
"I certainly felt we were doing okay up to the time we had a player sent off, and we would obviously view that as the game's turning point. I thought we were well on top for the last fifteen minutes of the first half, and even early on we were actually opening Kildare up once we got the ball to stick inside. We got a great goal, we got a few nice points as well, and I thought we were causing Kildare a lot of problems when we pushed forward.
"Our defence took about five or six minutes to settle, but, aside from conceding one goal chance that went narrowly wide nearing half time, we had coped very well overall at the back in the first half."
Cuthbert said he didn't see the incident resulting in the dismissal of Damien Cahalane five minutes into the second half, and he felt it came completely out of the blue.
"It seemed to come out of nowhere, because we were doing fine, but then the linesman reported Damien, and suddenly we were down a man. The way Kildare play, they are always capable of punishing you with an extra man, and we were unable to hold our shape once they came at us strongly in the closing stages. That we scored just four points in the second half tells its own story, and Kildare had huge momentum after they scored their first goal.
"It was curtains for us once they scored their second, because we didn't have enough bodies on the pitch to be able to turn it around," Cuthbert remarked, adding that the Kildare support was possibly a factor in determining the outcome as well. Kildare always have good support, and the crowd certainly got behind them when they got a sniff of victory which gave them a big lift in the closing stages.
"We would love to see the day when our supporters would make up the bulk of the attendance for an away game in the league, but unfortunately that's not happening at the moment."
It can be taken for granted that Cork supporters will be very thin on the ground for the next game away to Down, and Cuthbert accepts it's going to be very hard to put the Mourne men to the sword up in Newry.
"Anytime you travel up North for a league game, it's going to be tough, but hopefully we can get a bigger reaction from the lads than we got tonight to kick-start our season against Down.
"We intend to come out fighting from now on, and I suppose the big plus for us so far is that the young fellas we brought in have done well," Cuthbert remarked, a reference to the likes of Damien Cahalane, John O'Rourke and Clonakilty's Tom Clancy, all of whom played minor with Cork under his stewardship
"That would be the main positive we can take from our two outings."