CILLIAN BUCKLEY'S introduction to senior hurling in Kilkenny would best be described as seamless. Still under- 21, he is sharing a dressing room and, for the latter part of the league, a team sheet with some of the players he idolised as a youngster.
Yet he insists the initial awe he felt in the company of some of the most decorated hurlers in history quickly dissipated.
"You would be looking up to them over the last few years," admits Buckley who has been named at midfield for tomorrow's Leinster SHC semi-final against the Dubs, "but sure you can't dwell on that for too long and you have to get on with what you are in there for at the end of the day.
"And I suppose if you admire them you won't last in there for too long and you have to get on with it as much as they do. Brian (Cody) doesn't treat you any different to the lads that have been in there for a while as far as I can see. There is no special treatment for anyone in there. Number one is the same as number 30, so no, there is nothing special said going in there."
Advice, he says, has been freely given, but the key to becoming acclimatised in such lofty surrounds is to get get down to the business of hurling as quickly as possible.
"You just try and settle into it as quick as you can, because you could dwell on it for too long and before you know it, it could be gone and your chance could be gone," he reckons.
"That's more or less what they told me. Take it as another panel. I've been on enough of them up along and this is no different. You become friends with them which is an extra bonus but when we are training there are no friends, I suppose."