Cuthbert: we have nothing to lose in Croke Park
BRIAN Cuthbert contends that Cork will have little or nothing to lose in next Sunday's NFL semi final against Dublin in Croke Park.
Insisting that his charges will be going in as underdogs against the league holders and All-Ireland champions, the Rebel boss says he regards it as just another game for his developing side.
"I think all the pressure is on Dublin, they are playing in their own backyard, and they will have a few players back since we beat them there in the group stage, so they would have to be rated as strong favourites.
"They are also a bit more experienced than us, and the way I see it is that we will need to perform at our absolute best, and we will need a lot of things to go our way in order to get a win. A lot of our fellas wouldn't have played in Croke Park too often before, so the more games we get there the better, and this is going to be another step towards building the team for the championship," he said.
The Bishopstown clubman was obviously pleased with Cork's performance against Kerry in Tralee last Sunday, but he was quick to put it into perspective ahead of the showdown with the Dubs.
"It was a nothing game for Kerry in one respect, because they had probably lost hope of qualifying at half time after it became known that Mayo were beating a second string Derry team in Castlebar. At the same time, it was Cork versus Kerry, and we'll take a lot of confidence from the game.
"We played very good football at times, but there's plenty room for improvement, and we won't be getting carried away by a win over Kerry at the start of April."
Cuthbert agrees that the form of some of the less established players has been particularly encouraging, adding that he was happy with the way everyone performed last Sunday
"We've tried fellas out in every match we've played so far, and the experimentation process has been very successful. We are in a much better place because of it, and I'm convinced we have a lot of talent in all sectors, and that the panel is quite strong, which is very important.
"There's a responsibility on us as a management team to try and harness that talent as best we can, but it's going to take time, and people need to be patient," Cuthbert warned.
He said the aim is to get Cork performing the way they did against Kerry on a consistent basis, stressing that there has to be a realisation things mightn't go quite so well on other days.
"I don't believe we are in bonus territory at the moment, because we would have earmarked a top four place in the league. We'd definitely like to qualify for the final now, but, as I've said, it's all about building for the championship, and it would be a big boost in this regard if we give a good account of ourselves against Dublin.
"I'd expect us to produce a strong performance to be honest, but whether that happens or not is another question. What I do know is that the players are fully geared up for the challenge, we are ready to give it everything to try and win the game, and we'll just have to wait and see where it takes us."