Spillane eager for Cork's U-21 hurlers to end their barren Munster spell
The injury crisis that has hit the Cork U-21 hurlers doesn't exactly bode well for their quest to end an eight-year wait for a Munster title but Anthony Spillane is urging his team-mates to step up and make an impression in their quarter-final meeting with Waterford tomorrow.
The Rebels have been rocked by injuries to several key players including Stephen Murphy (finger), Dillon Cahill (shoulder) and Aaron Ward (wrist). Despite the lengthy list of absentees, Spillane, who was called into the senior panel back in February, is fully focused on ending the drought.
"We've been unlucky really. I suppose it's an opportunity for new fellas to come and really make the mark," the Castlelyons club man said. "You can't hide the fact that we haven't had any success in minor and U-21 the last few years. I just think it's a case of the other counties are coming up trumps. They're going very strong.
"Their schools are going well at Harty level. It's important to get underage success to drive on to senior.
"But there's still a lot of players who have developed from minor and U-21 the last few years that are going well at senior now. I suppose if they had won success, it would obviously help at senior."
Even as a youngster, Spillane understands the pressures that come with pulling on a Cork jersey and he admitted that it is a different kind of pressure to that faced by most other counties.
Nevertheless, the forward is adamant that the young players must grow accustomed to it and eventually thrive under the pressure.
"Even when I was young going to matches, the expectation is for Cork to win, with the county so big. The tradition for hurling is so powerful," Spillane acknowledged.
"You are expected to win and when you don't, you're ultimately seen as a failure and you're bound to come in for criticism. It's just a bit of pressure, you have to get used to.
"Our team when I was U-16, it was the first time Cork had ever won an All-Ireland. We were confident then going into the minor. It does have an impact when you're reading and Cork haven't won in so long and they need to get it. I think if we won one at all at minor and U-21, it would really bode well for the future and we'd drive on."
Spillane is hoping that Cork's success at senior level in last year's Munster Championship, when they ended an eight-year wait for the title, will inspire the younger generation when they take to the Páirc Uí Rinn pitch tomorrow.
"If you could get one under-age, it would stop a little bit of the criticism anyway," Spillane added.
"It would be a big help to drive on."