BY PETER McNAMARA
CREATIVE influence John O’Rourke has suggested the Rebels’ strength in depth has greater substance to it than people think as Cork prepare to meet Dublin in the opening round of the Allianz NFL Division 1 on Sunday.
O’Rourke has insisted Cork have more to offer than they are being given credit for in the build-up to this campaign.
‘Look, Dublin have plenty of players filtering through from their underage teams and these guys seem to be tailor-made players for senior level,’ the Carbery Rangers’ clubman explained.
‘We have played against a lot of those players at underage levels ourselves though so we know what they are about. They are good players and Dublin do have strength in depth, but so do we.
‘They seem to have players capable of stepping up to senior level but we are confident we have an extremely strong panel too.
‘Hopefully we can show that on Sunday and further on along the league games we will contest.’
O’Rourke is adamant Cork are eager to embrace the challenges of the upcoming league campaign despite many observers expecting the Rebels to struggle in the top-tier this term.
Cork, on paper, have a trying regular season before them which includes four trips north to meet Ulster opposition such as Monaghan, Donegal, Tyrone and Derry.
However, O’Rourke has dismissed the notion Cork are preparing for a series of troubleshooting exercises in the section.
‘Since we lost to Waterford in the McGrath Cup semi-final there has been a lot of talk of us possibly struggling in the league,’ O’Rourke said.
‘Obviously, our performance against Waterford and the result were both very disappointing but we have not dwelled on it.
‘We are seriously looking forward to the challenges that will be put in front of us in this campaign. Any time you are starting off in the league there is that added bit of excitement as well.
‘The season only really starts when the league does and I do not mean any disrespect to the McGrath Cup by saying that.
‘There is a great buzz around the camp actually, especially so, I suppose, because of the fact there is this high-profile game against Dublin on Sunday as our start-off point.’
Dublin will arrive at Páirc Uí Rinn as defending champions of the secondary competition.
Yet, O’Rourke has stated Cork are ready to tackle Jim Gavin’s men and all-comers in the division irrespective of the reservations of others.
‘Maybe it is because of our fixture list that people are saying things might not go our way but, as players, you take the opposite view and embrace these challenges.
‘Dublin are our first of those challenges and we cannot wait for Sunday,’ he added.