Wednesday 21 November 2018

Outsider Collins loving Banner days

This summer sees Collins commute to Ennis, a trip he makes three times a week for days like tomorrow’s Munster SFC semi-final with Kerry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
This summer sees Collins commute to Ennis, a trip he makes three times a week for days like tomorrow’s Munster SFC semi-final with Kerry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

A quick scroll through Eoghan Collins' Twitter account and you'll quickly realise that while he's fully committed to the Clare footballers and flourishing with the Banner, his heart will always be in Mayo.

His is a road less travelled but when the call came from his uncle Colm to join the Clare fold during his college days in Mary Immaculate College, it was an easy choice.

Having grown up admiring the exploits of his cousins Podge and Sean Collins and following their All-Ireland successes with Clare in Croke Park in 2013, the chance to line up in the same colours beside them was the deal breaker.

His father John is a native of Clare village Kilmihil but having once played an U-21 football challenge game for Mayo against Clare - with Podge in the opposite corner - it's a little different donning the saffron and blue.

As luck would have it, Mayo's spell-binding run through the qualifiers last summer took in a victory over the Banner and threw Collins up against Ballyhaunis teammate Keith Higgins,

"With Keith playing with the footballers and lots of clubmates playing hurling, you'd always be in touch with what's going on back home and it was definitely an interesting day playing against them," Collins said.

"It's something I wouldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams. Just like playing on the same side as Sean with Clare, it's another thing I thought would never happen but I'm not complaining."

There was never any problem with an outsider joining the Clare ranks "once the lads see that you're putting in the effort" and there certainly isn't any preferential treatment from the manager to his nephew.

"It doesn't matter who you are. When you're on the training pitch, he'll praise you or give out to you where it's due," Collins explained.

This summer sees Collins - a Nicky Rackard Cup winner in 2016 having only taken up hurling at 17 - based in Ballyhaunis but the M18 makes it a quick 80-minute commute to Ennis, a trip he makes three times a week for days like tomorrow's Munster SFC semi-final with Kerry.

The corner-back could face the likes of teenage sensation David Clifford, former Footballer of the Year James O'Donoghue or Paul Geaney but Clare's only focus will be on themselves.

"Everyone knows what's facing us, especially going down to Killarney but we'll set our own targets and try and hit them, if we do that you never know what might happen," he said.

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