Saturday 24 February 2018

No easy draw at this stage of the competition - Collins

Colm Collins (right) shakes hands with Niall Carew after Clare's victory over Sligo Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Colm Collins (right) shakes hands with Niall Carew after Clare's victory over Sligo Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Despite been pitted against the only Division 1 outfit on their side of the qualifier draw, Clare football manager Colm Collins was upbeat after seeing his side paired with Roscommon yesterday morning.

Clare could have faced Division 3 outfit Tipperary or second tier team Derry but the draw put them in with a Roscommon side who made the Division 1 semi-final in the spring.

The Banner moved into the last 12 with a strong second-half show to see off Sligo on Saturday night and they now take on a Roscommon side who face the dreaded six-day turnaround after Sunday's Connacht final replay defeat to Galway.

And Collins is relishing the opportunity to extend their summer even further.

"We'd be looking at it slightly differently in that we are delighted to be in the draw in the first place," Collins said of the fixture. "At this stage of the competition you are going to be playing pretty decent teams anyway and that's what we got in Roscommon.

"You won't be getting any easy draws at this stage so we'll just have to go and prepare for it.

"We're happy our name was in the hat. The lads worked hard in the second half against Sligo. They looked at themselves at half-time and said 'right it's time to get going here'. And they dug it out.

"Our midfielders put in two great performances and that gave us the platform to go and win it. The penalty was an important score too."

Clare and the Roscommon will meet in Pearse Stadium in Galway, with Collins hopeful his side's run in the competition can boost football in the county.

"It's great for football in Clare. It's great for the kids to see Clare football on TV in July, and it's important," he said.

"All credit is due to the players. They are a great bunch and they are a talented bunch. But talent without work doesn't get you too far and these lads have put in a huge amount of work.

"And I'm delighted for the supporters too that the game is in Galway and it's not too far for them. Clare people have been great to us. I can remember the furore around the place in 1992, so hopefully there will be plenty there in Galway on Saturday."

Collins declared a clean bill of health for the trip to Salthill.

"We expect to have everyone and that's a great testament to our doctor, physio and S&C people," he said.

"Last year we had an awful run with injuries and we have worked hard at keeping everyone fit, and it's credit to them that we have everyone."

Despite his side's good run in the competition, Collins maintains his belief that a different championship structure, featuring a 'B' competition, would serve football better. "I still think there is some merit in it," he said.

"What I was advocating was something along the lines of the GPA proposal: eight groups of four with eight teams seeded. The top two in the group go into the A championship and the bottom two go into the B championship.

"What I like about it is that you are graded on your championship form. This isn't just a case of putting the Division 4 teams in a competition and leaving them there.

"You are graded on how you perform in the championship. And at the end of it, everyone would have a reasonable chance of picking up some serious championship silverware."

Clare's game throws-in at 3.0, while rejuvenated Derry take on beaten Munster finalists Tipperary in Kingspan Breffni Park at 5.0. Both games will be shown live on Sky, with the winners advancing to face either Galway or Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Saturday week will see Cork face Donegal at 4.0 and Westmeath take on Mayo at 6.0. Both of those games are in Round 4B and take place in Croke Park.

SFC Qualifier draws

(extra-time if necessary)

Saturday July 23 - Round 4A

Clare v Roscommon, Pearse Stadium, Salthill, 3.0

Derry v Tipperary, Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan, 5.0

Saturday July 30 - Round 4B

Cork v Donegal, Croke Park, 4.0

Mayo v Westmeath, Croke Park, 6.0

Irish Independent

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