Cork welcome Offaly to Páirc Uí Chaoimh this weekend with Ronan McCarthy’s Rebels looking to get their Allianz League campaign off to a winning start.
The Leesiders endured a horrendous Division 2 campaign in 2019 picking up just two victories over Tipperary and Armagh as they suffered relegation to Gaelic football’s third tier.
Seeing a heavyweight such as Cork in Division 3 is bad enough before we factor in the added pressure of having to gain promotion in order to avoid the newly-introduced tier-two championship.
However, the Rebel men will go into the 2020 campaign confident that they can rectify the wrongs of last year’s Allianz League campaign.
According to veteran attacker Mark Collins there is a feel-good factor in the Rebel county at present due to the senior side’s admirable run to the Super 8s in 2019 coupled with both the minors and U20s taking home All-Ireland honours.
“Definitely there’s a bit of a feel-good factor. Starting back this year was maybe a small bit easier the way things finished last year. The under 20s and minors was a huge boost to the whole county.
“Even for the supporters, trying to get them back on your side a small bit, it definitely helped.”
Collins continued by saying that despite all of this, there is some disappointment in how their championship campaign ended last season.
“In saying that, we were probably a small bit disappointed the way it finished in the Super 8s. We didn’t win any of the games even though we were in contention with 10 minutes to go in all three games.
“So we know there’s a lot to improve on. But there was a good buzz going back to training alright.”
As Collins gears up for his tenth season as an inter-county footballer, the Castlehaven man can’t help but admit that his decade at the top has been somewhat soured in disappointment.
Collins first broke onto the senior panel in 2011 with Cork as All-Ireland champions. However, in the intervening years, he has managed to pick up just one Munster title and an Allianz League crown.
A dour return for a county steeped in history.
“Definitely. It’s been a bit of a disappointment, to be honest. When I first came on the panel, we were competing for Division 1 and, you know, the aim was to win the All-Ireland.
“Plus I was involved in a couple of very good U21 teams and you were hoping that the breakthrough was going to come. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we’ve chopped and changed with managers over time and haven’t performed as players.”
Collins feels now is the time for the players to right the wrongs of the past ten years.
“To be down in Division 3 is not where we want to be. It’s up to us now and a few of the younger players coming through to put that right.”