There may be nothing sweeter for a Corkman than a win over Kerry in any level of football, but Brian Cuthbert refused to display anything more than a smile of contentment at the end of Sunday’s McGrath Cup final in Mallow.
Cuthbert won his first trophy as the new Cork boss with a 1-11 to 0-10 win over the Kingdom, but the Rebels chief refused to read anything into the result of what is effectively a pre-season tournament when he spoke to the media afterwards.
“Winning the McGrath Cup is acknowledgment of the hard work done over the past few weeks. However, there is a complete understanding that it’s January and we’re a long way from home,” Cuthbert said.
“I was very heartened by the second half performance. A lot of fellas stood up to the plate and we learned a lot about our group. We’re heading into the league in a positive frame of mind.
“The league is a different competition and we’ll make another assessment of where we’re at when we get to the end of it.”
Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice says his team will hit the ground running when they open their league campaign against Dublin at Croke Park on Saturday, Feb 1.
The Kingdom struggled in Division One last season and had to wait five games before they recorded their first point, but Fitzmaurice hopes for better things this time around.
Speaking after Sunday’s McGrath Cup final defeat to Cork, he said, “We wouldn’t like to wait until our fifth game to get points on the board like we did last year. I think if you can get two points on the board after the first two games, you’re in a good situation whereas if you don’t it can become a bit of a struggle, as it was for us last year. We have to get ready for the Dublin match.
“It is a big game but the teams will be a good bit different to the teams which lined out in the All-Ireland semifinal last summer. They’ll be down the St. Vincent’s players, we’ll be down the Crokes players, so both sides will be a bit different.
“Of course it will be a big game – it’s the first game of the league, Dublin are All-Ireland champions, but it’s a great game for us to have. We’ll just have to improve a good bit from the Cork match.”