THE Cork footballers aren't worried about the pressure of being favourites for Saturday evening's critical qualifier against Laois.
The Rebels are fancied to win at Semple Stadium, 5pm and progress to a Super 8 with Dublin, Roscommon and Tyrone or Cavan, on the basis of the fine display in the Munster final loss to Kerry.
"There's no problem with using the word pressure. It is that. It's the chance to take a step to three games against the best, two of them in Croke Park," said coach Eddie Kirwan.
The Nemo club man was added to the management set-up this season by Ronan McCarthy and appreciates the game is one of the most important for years for Cork football.
"A consistent pattern is what you're looking for. Within the camp for the last three months we've seen that. The mood is good. As a unit we expected to win against Kerry is we performed and executed properly and the execution was all that let us down."
Cork certainly had their chances in the provincial decider, eventually going down by three points, after some controversial decisions by the ref.
"The ref gave them more frees but the ultimate thing is we played against 14 men when the game was level and we didn't execute well enough in the last quarter, or at the start of the first half. We'd to take that in the chin because you get bogged down in excuses otherwise. You have to look at yourself first.
"I don't subscribe to the idea that not being in Division 1 was the problem. We just have to be smarter the next day."
Laois might be underdogs but Cork have prepared in the same way they did for the Kerry game. Kirwan and selector Seán Hayes were at their backdoor defeat of Offaly last weekend.
"Laois have good forwards. The two Kingstons are well known and Evan Carroll was a standout with UCD in the Sigerson Cup and he only came on as a sub. They're capable of causing any team problems and are going well.
"We'll give the same respect as we did Kerry and we just have to perform. It's as simple as that."
After a woeful start of the league which ultimately saw them relegated, Cork clicked and used challenge games to build a platform of consistency in their performances before blitzing Limerick in the Munster semi-final.
"We've engaged the group. We've used different line-ups in different challenges and been consistent even doing that. We've got different tests in different weather from Division 1 teams, Division 2 teams and Division 3 teams. You can't be too up or down, like last year, an even keel is vital.
"We're on the right path but the proof of that will only be if we bring it on Saturday night, which I'm confident we will. If we're not good enough then, so be it."
The game won't be televised, though there still won't be a huge Leeside crowd in Thurles.
"You to give the supporters something to shout about. You can't wallow in excuses because you have to give them something to back. You have some loyal supporters, they were up in Fermanagh at the start of the year. One of them teaches with me in Ashton, Donal McCarthy. The supporters will come on board if we're playing the right way and getting results.