Dual star Collins reeling after 'moment of madness'
Podge Collins knew the moment he pulled his hand away from David Redmond's head and saw his face guard come with it that he was in trouble.
Reflecting on the first red card dished out in hurling under new rules governing interference with a face guard, introduced for this year's championship, Collins admitted that he had no complaints.
Clare played the remainder of last Saturday's hurling qualifier game against Wexford with 14 men after Collins' dismissal by referee Cathal McAllister just before half-time for a rule that Banner manager, Davy Fitzgerald, described afterwards as "a joke". But Collins admitted that there was a "bit of frustration" behind what he did and accepts that he had to go despite how people view the offence.
"He (Redmond) was banging into me, but I shouldn't have done it," recalled Collins.
"It was a moment of madness. It was a split-second thing, a regrettable thing that happened. It wasn't that I thought about it or anything like that. It was stupid.
"It's in the moment. I can't describe it. Something happened that I wasn't thinking. It's an out-of-body thing where you do it impulsively and immediately afterwards you realise it's a red-card incident.
"I know I didn't hurt anyone doing it. But it's in the rules that it's a red-card offence and I knew after I did it was 'trouble here'. I regretted it immediately. It was a bit of frustration. We were losing a game and I was trying to get into it. I gave away a free and that just capped it."
Collins said he felt a sense of guilt that he had let his team down.
"When the referee pulled the red card out, I was obviously gutted that I let the team down, I let the manager down, I let Clare down. It was my mistake and I will deal with the consequences.
"I was lucky enough that the lads, in fairness, showed great character and came back from that deficit with 14 men. It would have been a lot worse for me if we lost the game."
On the substantive issue as to whether pulling a face guard as he did should be a red card, Collins said worse things happen, but that he had learned his lesson.
"There was no harm done. You are going to have little tussles. There are tussles off the ball the whole time. Lads are hitting the butt of the hurleys off each other, but the ref is not going to send you off because no one is getting hurt.
"They brought it in for health and safety reasons, but there isn't a lot of health and safety in hurling anyway," he laughed. "You understand that when you play it. It's not a nice thing to pull someone's face mask," he accepted.
"I have learned my lesson. Other players know now it's a big 'no no' and unfortunately it has happened me."
He was visibly distraught in the Clare dugout afterwards and was consoled by his friend and colleague Shane O'Donnell and his brother Sean, among others.
"It's just going through your head that you are at a disadvantage because of something I did. They managed to pull it out of the fire and get a draw."
Collins revealed that he had his hands in his head, afraid to look, when Tony Kelly took that penalty late in the game which was saved initially by Matthew O'Hanlon before Seadna Morey scored from the rebound.
"I didn't look at it. I was waiting for the crowd to roar and I heard a groan. Then I heard a scream. The rebound went in. Then Conor Ryan, my own clubman, stepped up and got a point. He saved my ass," Collins said.
Suspended for tomorrow's replay in Wexford Park, Collins has been able to devote more concentration to the footballers, who are in a second round football qualifier against Carlow.
His performance in a sweeping role against Kerry in the Munster semi-final was acclaimed and clearly he is comfortable with the football side of the dual coin. However, he maintained a diplomatic silence on the vexed issue of dual players.
Whether – as his hurling manager consistently contends – it is not possible to maximise your abilities by playing both sports and this has affected his performances, it is something he reserves for others to judge.
Collins feels that all of the Clare players get greater attention and that is something, as champions, they have come to expect. "You do get a bit of a name for yourself, if you play a few good games. I suppose I was unknown last year. You have to expect that if you do have a decent enough year, that players will be out to mark you tighter. It will make it that bit tougher.
"We were well aware of that. When you are All-Ireland champions, every one wants to beat you."