CIARÁN SHEEHAN admitted there was a fair bit of pressure on the Cork footballers at the start of the season, sampling the rare delights of Division 3 for the first time.
That pressure was cranked up by the bookies quoting them odds-on favourites to make an immediate return to the second tier, but Cork made it three from three against Down in a gale at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, winning by 0-16 to 1-8.
Cork are now 3/10 to bounce back straight away as they sit a point in front of Longford and three ahead of the trio of Derry, Down and Tipperary with four games remaining.
“When you're playing Division 3 football you want to win every game. The lads, to be fair, have handled that really well. We've knuckled down.
“We've not allowed the scoreboard or whoever we're playing dictate how we want to play. I thought we showed that on Sunday.
“We held our composure and got through for an important win,” Sheehan said.
The Éire Óg forward is delighted with the maximum six points and while people of talk of two more being enough to go up, Sheehan is not looking that far ahead.
“It's absolutely fantastic. We wanted to get a good start to the league and we've certainly got that.
“We're taking it game by game and you have to re-assess after every game to see how we can tackle the next game.
“We're happy with our position, but we still have a challenge ahead, going up to Thurles on Saturday week.”
Sheehan's admiration of the young bucks, Cathail O'Mahony and Damien Gore, continues to grow.
Both contributed 0-3 with identical returns of a couple of frees and one apiece from play.
“They are super talented young fellows and as I said before I get great energy off them from playing alongside them.
“It's about getting into the right positions now and getting up to that level, though it's a big step up as it always is.
“But, they are starting to show that in training and every game is an improvement for them.
“I'm looking forward to what they can show as the year goes on.”
Unsurprisingly, Storm Ciara was the centre of much of the post-match chit-chat, blowing at her fiercest right from the start.
“We had a bit of a taste of those conditions last week up in Leitrim. To be fair, though, the surface out there is outstanding so the conditions didn't really take from our football.
“We were probably a bit wasteful in front of goal in the first-half, but we re-assessed and pulled it together in the second-half.
“I thought we handled the conditions well and it was great to get a result.”
As is the norm, Down parked the proverbial bus in front of keeper Rory Burns in the first-half, often withdrawing everyone behind the 45m line.
But, Cork had a sense of what lay in store. “We did our home work and had a look at Down in their last couple of matches and knew what they were going to come with.
“It was a challenge for us. Every full-forward line is dealing with that at the moment because a lot of teams are dropping players back.
“The key word is patience. You spray the ball around, have plenty of movement and you usually get on the end of it.
“The one thing we have to work on as a forward unit is that movement off the ball.
“I think it will come with time. We are aware of it and know we need to work on it.
“We've a young group, but you can see the maturity starting to come through, particularly in the second-half, especially, when we were down to 13 men.
“A lot of guys stepped up, players like Tadhg Corkery, who really shone for us in the second-half, showing a lot of maturity.
“That's the nature of the group at the moment. There's some great improvement coming from the younger lads and it's exciting to be part of it.”
Cork take a break next weekend before preparing for the trip to Tipp before hosting more Ulster opponents in Derry, who defeated Tipp, on March 1.