Saturday 21 October 2017

Collins helping Clare's quiet football revolution gather pace

Clare football manager Colm Collins. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Clare football manager Colm Collins. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It almost went unnoticed. Clare's win over Cork on Sunday was 20 years in the making and marked the latest milestone in the Banner's quiet football revolution.

But with so much else going on in the GAA world, it caught less limelight than might have been expected. And you get the impression that Colm Collins is happy enough to keep it that way.

The Clare manager isn't getting too carried away, despite his upwardly mobile side taking almost everything in their stride. His thoughts are already turning to Fermanagh in a fortnight's time.

But their win over the Rebels means that the NFL Division 2 new-boys are looking up, rather than down.

History

"Look it was great to win, particularly with the history of the Munster Championship," he said.

"We've had a lot of tough days at the hands of Cork down through the years so it was a nice piece of history. But our focus is on Fermanagh now."

Clare sit third in the table on five points, just a point behind pace-setters Kildare. And while they are closer to the promotion shake-up than the relegation battle, Collins points out that Armagh fell through the trapdoor on six points last year.

"We went over the figures and Armagh were relegated on six points. And we only have five," he said.

"But we have looked for improvement from the lads this year, we asked them to hit certain markers and it has worked well for us so far."

The win over Cork was another indicator of their rapid improvement under Collins as they built on winning last year's Division 3 title.

"I've always thought that from the bottom of Division 1 to the top of Division 4 that there's not a whole pile between any of the teams," said Collins.

"There's a lot of sides there who can beat each other on a given day so there's a very even spread in Gaelic football, and you're only ever a couple of wins away from getting up the ladder.

"The big difference is that as you go up the divisions you find that teams nearly know as much about you as you do yourself, and you have to be ready for that."

Apart from the result on Sunday, there was satisfaction for Collins that his side got over the line without talisman Gary Brennan, who is preparing for an All-Ireland club final with Ballyea on St Patrick's day.

"We were down one or two players so for the lads to go out and perform like they did was pleasing," said Collins.

"We're blessed with a very good group of players and it's the old story, talent is one thing, but talent with the correct attitude is the important thing and we have got that. So where these fellas go is completely up to themselves. I'm very happy with them.

"They go about their business in a very professional way - they are an exceptional group of players. And they don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk."

After their trip to Fermanagh, Clare will travel to face Kildare in a repeat of last year's Division 3 final and then welcome Meath to Ennis for the final round. With the division wide open, what does Collins want from the rest of the campaign?

"We're just looking for improvement," he said. "We just want to get that little bit better when we go out."

Irish Independent

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