Friday 9 December 2016

Clare jewel Collins happy to wage war on two fronts for the Banner

Published 17/05/2016 | 02:30

Podge Collins: 'You don’t know what will happen in the championship, for now it's all happy and we'll see how we get on this year and take it from there. I won't be looking past the Limerick game and then the Waterford game' Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Podge Collins: 'You don’t know what will happen in the championship, for now it's all happy and we'll see how we get on this year and take it from there. I won't be looking past the Limerick game and then the Waterford game' Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

The schedule is made out alright.

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Podge Collins' life for the next few weeks is mapped out in a neatly assembled timetable he's handed after the Clare football and hurling management mash out an arrangement between them.

Just don't ask him to walk you through it though because he's not sure of the whens and wheres of it all. There's football training on Wednesday night and he can't say for sure after that.

"I'll have to get a schedule - it's all done out, I just don't have it with me."

It's likely his two upcoming Munster Championship dates are highlighted in the timetable.

There's Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds with the footballers on May 28.

The following weekend the hurlers face Waterford in Thurles. It's hectic but it's the way he's happy to have it after Davy Fitzgerald relented and softened his stance on dual players.

Players who opt for both codes are an endangered species but Collins in determined not to let the dual star die out - despite the obvious challenges.

"I think the point of the hurling management is a very valid one and because of the commitment in the GAA at the moment you nearly want to focus your time on one panel," he said, at the announcement of the extension of Centra's sponsorship of the hurling championship.

"It nearly is a full-time job. That's not saying a bad thing about it - I love playing it and wouldn't change a thing about it but you can see where they are coming from."

It didn't work to anyone's satisfaction in 2014 when Collins first attempted playing both codes. He played football only in 2015 when he was asked to choose.

This year he is back with the two set-ups and after completing the rare feat of picking up league medals in both codes this year, all is rosy in the garden.

However, Collins is aware of how quickly those attitudes can change if results for either or both teams start to go south.

"Like I said, I'll play it by ear and see how it goes and take it from there next year. When everything is going well no one in Clare will be giving out and none of the supporters will have a problem with it," he said.

"We won both leagues and when you are winning everything is right and everything is happy. And when you are losing that's when people will get on to you and that's when it is a problem.

"You don't know what will happen in the championship, for now it's all happy and we'll see how we get on this year and take it from there. I won't be looking past the Limerick game and then the Waterford game."

Having missed the league weekends where Clare have both hurling and football commitments through injury, Collins admitted he avoided a sticky situation.

If the championship schedule was to throw him a curveball and put both teams out on the same weekend, he's non-committal on what way he would go - "we'll have to see," he demurs.

In any case, he argues that the dual player should be accommodated in the fixture schedule, particularly at underage level.

"I suppose I probably should have talked to a few more players about (playing both)," he said.

"What I'd love if it was made possible especially for younger lads. The way it is gone at senior level it can be very hard to do both but I'd love to see players accommodated to do both at minor.

"Even like with Tipperary when they got to both All-Ireland [minor] finals and lost. You had the hurling people in Tipp saying, 'If they weren't in the football, they probably would have won the hurling'.

"The same the other way around. But what had they to produce to prove themselves?

"They got to both All-Ireland finals like. I think any minor team in the country would be delighted to get to an All-Ireland final and they came up that bit short.

"If they won the double would everyone be saying it is possible. It's small margins."

Until someone tells him otherwise, he's happy to chase the dream on both fronts.

"To be honest, I love both of them. Always did. Just grew up playing both of them, always loved them."

Irish Independent

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