Tuesday 6 December 2016

League remains the priority for Banner men despite prospect of silverware

Published 20/01/2016 | 02:30

Colm Collins will have to plan without his son Podge until at least March. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Colm Collins will have to plan without his son Podge until at least March. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Clare will roll up to Mallow on Friday night just 70 minutes from a rare piece of silverware for the county's footballers.

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It's only January and the McGrath Cup but they could hardly be blamed if they went all out against Cork this weekend. These chances come along all too rarely but Banner manager Colm Collins is adamant they will have other things on their mind.

"Make no mistake about it, the league and January 31 (for the opening round at home to Sligo) is our main aim," Collins insists.

"Everything else is just about working towards that."

Clare have already seen off the province's two other fancied sides in a bright start to the new campaign. Tipperary fell first and then Kerry were beaten. It was an eye-catching result in that it was their first win over the Kingdom since their famous day in the sun in the Munster final of 1992 but for Collins it carried little significance.

"Ah look, there was no one taking anything out of that," Collins said.

"We know what sort of team Kerry had out of that so we didn't look too much at it. We could only look at it from our point of view.

"Okay, we had seven experienced players out but we also had eight inexperienced players out too. And it was important for us to see them playing.

"That's what this month is about really, we have looked at a lot of new faces and we've been pleased with them and how they have gone. The fact that the results went our way is just a bonus."

"We had a good minor team last year and we've had some of them in training with us.

"And it's great for them to train with the likes of Gary Brennan and David Tubridy and hopefully that will help them go on to be good players for Clare for years to come."

Cork have hit the ground running under new management in 2016, hitting 4-29 in two games against Limerick and Waterford.

But Collins will have one eye on the visit of Sligo to Miltown Malbay the following weekend.

"The football (in Division 3) will be so competitive, there's a lot of good teams there and I don't think there'll be a kick between a lot of the teams there."

However, he wouldn't be drawn on the county's targets for the year.

"We have to have our house in order," he offered.

"And like a lot of teams we'll have targets in terms of work rate, tackles, shot efficiency and things likes that but you have to remember there's another team trying to do the same thing.

"So we just have to hit our goals in that regard."

Clare will have to plan without Podge Collins until at least March but otherwise they will be pulling from a full deck.

"That's when the nine months is over so that's what you're looking at there. Otherwise we're okay injury-wise, bar a few niggles here and there which you are always going to have."

Collins added his voice to the growing opposition to the 'B' championship proposals that will go to Congress next month and see Division 4 sides compete in their own competition.

The Clare manager is in favour of some sort of second-tier championship but hit out at the latest proposals.

"As I read somewhere it's the Tommy Murphy rehashed and the Tommy Murphy Cup didn't work," he said.

"And this thing of getting back into the 'A' championship until the following year is strange. You mightn't be the same team a year later.

"I believe there's not a hope of it being passed so you'd wonder why it is being proposed. I'd love to see the provinces go for a couple of years. I'd love to have eight groups of four with the top two going into the 'A' championship and the bottom two going into the 'B' championship.

"But if you're having a 'B' championship it needs all the bells and whistles, it has to mean something. Play the two finals on the same day, have an All-Star team picked the same as the 'A' championship.

"We have a great product we just have to come up with a better way to show it."

Irish Independent

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