FORMER Cork boss Conor Counihan is backing the Rebels to kick on from a mixed league campaign in time for their Munster championship opener.
The footballers struggled for consistency in Division 2 during the spring, but that won't matter if they can get the better of Tipperary on Saturday week, assuming the Premier get past Waterford this weekend first.
Counihan, who guided Cork to ultimate glory in 2010, was speaking ahead of Friday's official launch at Páirc Uí Chaoimh of a new fundraising body for Leeside teams, Cairde Chorcaí.
“It was a difficult league, no doubt and you have the lads tied up with Nemo as well as a few injuries to some big players. What you'd always prefer as a manager is a consistent group, where you can nail down positions.
“Then again it's all about producing in the championship as well, if Cork do that then we won't be talking about the league.”
Cork did both under Counihan, collecting a Division 2 and three successive Division 1 titles from 2009 to 2012, as well as delivering at Croke Park at the business end of the summer. Current Cork coach Ronan McCarthy served alongside Counihan as a selector in 2013.
“We were able to blood two or three lads in every game, but now there are more coming in in the one go which is obviously more difficult. Tipp are pretty consistent, they should beat Waterford, and they'll be fancied by a lot of people to beat Cork in Thurles as well but it's not beyond Cork at all.”
These days the Aghada native is working with his club's U21s, while he's also done some sessions with Arravale Rovers, a Tipp senior club.
His primary focus this week is the Cairde Chorcaí event. The body was established by former Cork players to aid with team costs for Rebel teams in both codes and also aims to assist the ladies football and camogie operations in time.
Fundraising has taken place in the US already and the call is out for more ex-Rebels to come on board this Friday, from 5.30pm in the Páirc at the gala launch.
“There is always an interest outside the county and the country in Cork GAA. There's a great passion for Cork and people away from home often have a stronger bond to their own place, they like that connection.
“The idea now is to get more former players in, to get involved and tap into their expertise. Everyone wants to see standards raised.” As well as providing financial assistance for Cork's top teams, the longer goal is to improve coaching standards and facilities.
“Underage is the future. We all appreciate that and pro rata Cork is way behind the likes of Dublin in terms of GDAs and coaches on the ground. Sorting that won't happen overnight though.”