Colm Spillane confident Cork have learned from last year

Better scheduling should mean Cork’s All-Ireland semi-final preparations aren’t as upset as they were last year, believes Colm Spillane.

Colm Spillane confident Cork have learned from last year

Better scheduling should mean Cork’s All-Ireland semi-final preparations aren’t as upset as they were last year, believes Colm Spillane.

The Cork corner-back, who celebrated his 25th birthday with a second Munster title on Sunday, felt the U21s’ Munster semi-final and final affected the seniors’ training matches ahead of their defeat to Waterford in Croke Park last August.

However, there is a week fewer until their last-four game this time around, which takes place on July 27 or 28, and fewer U21s involved with the seniors (Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Robbie O’Flynn, Shane Kingston, David Griffin, and Jack O’Connor from Sunday’s match-day panel compared to almost a dozen last year).

Plus, the U21s’ Munster final tomorrow is their only game until the August Bank Holiday weekend, so Spillane is optimistic that there are few obstacles preventing the Munster champions backing up their provincial success with progress in Croke Park.

Although Cork haven’t won in Croke Park since 2013, the experience of 2017 will also stand to his team, Spillane feels.

“Last year helps. We had a five-week run-in last year and we learned a lot from it. We didn’t have the 21s for two-and-a-half weeks and it definitely affected our training. Nobody’s fault, but we had 10 or 11 U21s last year and we didn’t have them for that time, as they had two championship games, whereas this year they’re playing Wednesday night and we then have them for three and a half weeks and we can get the games in. We learned a lot from that last year and we’ll be more ready for whoever we face in the semi-final.

With the U21s there, the A versus B games were as competitive as any inter-county match, really, and I think we’ll be primed and ready to go for four weeks’ time.

It may have been a first Munster title for a few of Castlelyons man Spillane’s colleagues but, as Anthony Nash indicated following the game, there’s a keenness to move on.

Last year was my first time playing in one and the whole thing was new,” recalled Spillane. “This year, the team were a lot more relaxed.

“I think the core of the team were there for a second year and we were under ferocious pressure in the first half, down eight points at one stage, but there is no panic in this team. We stick to what we’re doing, we stick to our roles and trust in what we’re doing and we trust that we can always get back into a game. We never really look at the scoreboard, anyway. I think there was a bit more confidence in us this year, whereas last year I’m not sure if we would have been able to come back as we did, but this year the core group is there for a second year and we’re building that confidence.”

Cork have shown their versatility, but also their endurance in being able to claim back-to-back Munster titles under different structures, though Spillane’s thoughts on which system is the best is clear: Round-robin all the way.

“Yeah, I think it’s great, to be honest. Players want to be playing games and we train hard enough and our reward is playing in front of 45,000 people. The fans love it, the players love it. It’s been a great Munster championship and I think it should stay in this format.

“The only disadvantage is Munster is probably more competitive than Leinster, but if you can get yourself in the top three you’ve earned it and you’ve seen the quality of the teams who haven’t made it this year.”

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