Friday 18 October 2019

Collins says Banner troops ready to 'stand up' for Royal rumble

Collins: Incremental improvements. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Collins: Incremental improvements. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

The season before Colm Collins took charge of Clare, the Banner had put down another forgettable season.

In the spring of 2013 they came up a win short of a promotion from Division 4 and later that year they lost Championship games to Cork and Laois by nine and 16 points respectively. Those defeats brought the county's brief association with Mick O'Dwyer to an end.

Fast-forward six years and things have been transformed. Clare are an established Division 2 team and are now just one win away from a spot in the 'Super 8s'.

In the interim there have been obvious, and not so obvious, milestones - with hoodoos ended and new ground broken.

There were two promotions in three years, including a Division 3 title thanks to a win over Kildare in 2016; there have been landmark wins away to Cork and a first All-Ireland quarter-final appearance. And now they are on the brink of the Super 8s.

"We have always spoken about incremental improvements and always trying to be better," manager Collins says.

"These are things we can control. When you have two very well-prepared teams you can't guarantee a result, but what is guaranteed is that you try to be a better team today than you were last weekend.

"And the areas where you didn't do so well last weekend you are always targeting that you want to be better this weekend.

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"That culture of improvement I think is necessary for any team that wants to get better and it has worked for us anyway, that's for sure."

Ask Collins about the secret of that improvement and he'll point to the attitude of his players and the talent of the people in his backroom team.

"I know in media circles there's focus on a manager, but it is very much a group of people where everybody is doing their job so well, that is what drives it on.

"And you have got to have players then that are men, that stand up and will do what they stay they will do. And that you don't have to be chasing around looking to see where they are or are not. We are lucky this group have driven this thing on.

"And we are fortunate with the group of players that are around the team. The backroom team in every aspect from coaching to strength and conditioning to medical people to video and stats and everyone involved have been fantastic... things are done before you even ask."

Fate has handed them a date with Meath in O'Moore Park in front of the RTE cameras on Sunday.

The Royals are still licking their wounds after a chastening experience at the hands of Dublin and this weekend they will be looking to go against the trend of beaten Leinster finalists in recent years.

Not since Kildare beat Division 4 side Wicklow in 2009 have the vanquished Leinster finalists recovered to make the last eight.

However, Collins points to the recent record between the teams. For three years in a row Meath have come out on top in Division 2 league clashes, winning those games by an aggregate of 31 points.

"Meath are a good side. They have very good runners, and good scoring forwards," he says.

"Okay, things didn't work out in the Leinster final, but that wouldn't lessen my admiration for them. They beat us fair and square on three occasions so they've got quality all over the pitch.

"And for us to win we are going to have to be at our very best, it's as simple as that."

Irish Independent

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