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‘Late developer’ Pat Spillane Jnr inspires others to stay chasing county dream

The Sligo football star has taken his game to new heights in recent years as he follows in famous father’s foot steps

The story of Pat Spillane Jnr’s arrival on the inter-county scene with Sligo is a classic case of a late developer who continued to persevere before making his mark.

Being the son of legendary Kerry star Pat Spillane, an eight-time All-Ireland SFC winner, brings its pressures but the Templenoe native has thrived since relocating to the capital.

It was there that he started off with St Jude’s, initially for their intermediate side, before making a statement at senior level on their run to the 2021 Dublin SFC final and then taking up the invitation to play for Sligo (where his mother Rosarii hails from).

“When I joined Jude’s, I just played with the intermediate team for the first year and I was just playing for enjoyment really,” Spillane said.

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“And when things went well with them, they called me up to the senior team and that was when I really thought ‘I can get more out of myself here, I’ve something to add to the senior group in Jude’s’.

“That led into the year that we had the run to the Dublin final and then naturally that led into thinking that I could have a crack at inter-county as well. I’ve just always taken it one step at a time and that’s where it has led me.”

His is a classic case of never giving up and soaking up as much information as possible in an effort to improve.

“Athletically, I only really started to hit the ground running age 23, that’s when it happened for me so I probably would be thrown into a late developer class,” the 25-year-old said.

“That’s down to being surrounded by really good coaches in Jude’s and Sligo in the last few years who have gotten the most out of me and really experienced players who have been really supportive in Jude’s.

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“They’ve done a lot for my development and I’ve only really hit the ground running the last two or three years.

“If you just listen and absorb everything from your coaches, from the experienced players and do all the right things at an individual level, you can really get a lot more out of yourself than you think you can.

“I’ve tried to sustain that growth mindset in the last two or three years and add on a little bit week by week so definitely. It’s never a closed door, especially for younger players.”

Spillane will be hoping that the Sligo dream continues – their U-20s also made it back-to-back Connacht titles last night – with a provincial final place up for grabs when they hosts surprise packets New York at Markievicz Park (2.30) on Saturday.

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