Colm Spillane's rebirth in attack offers an interesting option for the Cork hurlers

Colm Spillane's rebirth in attack offers an interesting option for the Cork hurlers

Colm Spillane, Castlelyons, could be an attacking option for Cork on current club form. Picture: John Hennessy

IF Colm Spillane keeps up his current form at centre-forward for Castlelyons then Cork manager Kieran Kingston might have a problem.

1-7, from play, against Blackrock’s second string last weekend, was followed by 1-5, again from play, against Premier Intermediate grade favourites Blarney at Mourneabbey on Saturday evening. Not bad for a corner-back!

He may be in defence for Cork, but invariably at club level, he plays centrally. It is just natural that a club will attempt to maximise the influence of their inter-county stars, hence Spillane, Eoin Cadogan, Niall O’Leary and Sean O’Donoghue all played their hurling in the past couple of weeks well away from the full-back line. 

Perhaps there is something to be learned in this from a Cork perspective. This may be something worth discussing at a future date.

But back to Spillane. If he keeps totting up big scores then the Cork management will seriously have to start considering him for a role on the attacking 40.

Assuming this annoying pesky virus does not get in the way, we are going to get a winter inter-county championship, so Cork are going to have to pick a side geared towards winter hurling. 

The likes of Conor Lehane, Shane Kingston and Mark Coleman were born to tear across the hard grounds of Thurles, Cork and Dublin in the summer months, but the jury is out on whether they are the right weapons for winter combat. It’s like horse racing in a way, some horses are fast ground horses, while others like heavy ground. 

Daniel Kearney, Sarsfields, battling Conor Lehane, Midleton. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Daniel Kearney, Sarsfields, battling Conor Lehane, Midleton. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The major caveat is the fact that the Premier Intermediate grade is not Premier Senior. The hurling is of a very good standard, but the jump in quality from watching the stream of Castlelyons v Blarney to Sarsfields v Douglas was noticeable.

In saying that, Castlelyons must be commended for the way that the strangled an ultra-talented Blarney outfit. The conditions could not have been more perfect for this slick young Blarney side, yet Castlelyons just did not let them breathe. 

The East Cork side’s spine of Colm Barry, Niall O’Leary, Keith O’Leary, Colm Spillane and Anthony Spillane proved just too strong, with most of Blarney’s leading lights performing below par on the day.

Colm Spillane was the inspiration though, right from the off. He led the line magnificently, his striking from range was right on the money, and he took his first-half goal superbly, in the perfect example of gamekeeper turned poacher.

It will be interesting to see what role he plays for Imokilly once they enter the Cork County Championship fray in the coming weeks. With Seamus Harnedy and Will Leahy and co around, the logical decision would be to deploy Spillane in his ‘normal’ defensive role, but if we were to see him played in attack it would allow us to judge him in terms closer to inter-county.

Although it must be remembered how much we lamented Spillane’s absence last summer when the Cork rearguard was being dismantled by a non-vintage Kilkenny attack. We must be careful that poor Peter is not robbed in order to pay Paul, and all that.

With winter hurling in mind the interesting project that is James Sweeney at Sarsfield rolls on, with the 6' 7” attacker again impressing with 0-4 from play against Douglas, at least until Eoin Cadogan shackled him somewhat in the second period. 

It might be the case that Cork will have to fill their middle eight with the strongest, most aggressive hurlers at their disposal, so someone with that size and power might come in very useful.

Do that, and then feed a full-forward line with the finishing power of the likes of Patrick Horgan, Alan Cadogan, Declan Dalton, Shane Kingston and Conor Lehane and you’re going to be there or thereabouts.

These certainly are strange times, but thankfully sport is back with us, for now at least, and we can be incredibly grateful for the high-quality streaming services that has allowed us all to view matches despite not being able to attend these games in the flesh.

The world is going to be a very different place by the time this Covid-19 virus is consigned to history.

Hopefully, the option to stream live games will remain an option for people who are unable to travel to games. It could even end up being a valuable income source for Cork GAA in the future.

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