David Collins' club glory softens blow of missing out on Galway All-Ireland
The timing of David Collins' departure from the Galway hurling squad last winter may have been off but it gave perfect alignment for his club Liam Mellows to land their first county hurling title in 47 years.
In his acceptance speech as joint-captain with Aonghus Callanan in Pearse Stadium on Sunday, Collins joked that winning in Galway would bring some peace to his father over his decision to go.
But in his heart Collins knows the time was right for him to take his leave, despite Galway winning their first All-Ireland title for 29 years a few months later.
And when that decision was made it helped to entice Louis Mulqueen, a former All-Ireland-winning club manager with St Joseph's Doora-Barefield in Clare, on top of a coaching role with the Banner in 2013, to commit to Liam Mellows.
"I knew my time was coming to an end with Galway. I had my work done. I'm too competitive. I don't want to be standing on the sideline," Collins said.
"OK, I had two or three years there where I was trying to get on the team and not making it but I was fit and healthy and I wanted to give my full commitment to the club," he recalled.
"Then it was really, 'Louis, you come, I'll commit' and we worked it out that way," he said of the initial talks to bring Mulqueen in.
"Galway went on and won an All-Ireland and that's fantastic and I looked at Aidan Harte (Gort), a team-mate of mine for the last 10 years, and it hurts me to see him losing but obviously there has to be a winner. It was a great commitment and I'm thrilled that we are where we are."
Collins was part of a wave of established Galway players who moved on at the end of 2016 and obviously there was some regret that they lost out.
"I was working with RTÉ at the time and it gave me a job and it gave me something to think about.
"Of course, I wanted to be there, I fought 13 years to win that elusive All-Ireland.
"Micheál (Donoghue) has such a bond and a commitment with that team and, fair play to them, they stepped up to the mark.
"We could only bring them so far and I have to pay credit to the likes of Andy Smith, Iarla Tannian, Cyril Donnellan, Fergal Moore. These lads got no credit, no plaudits for what they did over the years. It was a credit to play with them over the years."
For Liam Mellows it was a first success in Galway since 1970 and for the city itself a first since Castlegar in 1984.
But Collins dismissed any perception that the game has been weak in the county's biggest urban area.
"We've got coaches in 11 primary schools in Galway that have trained 1,400/1,500 kids all year long and we have 700 members.
"The city needs hurling, the city needs Gaelic games and it's great to have it (senior championship) back in.
"You see all the flags and banners coming in, the city gave massive support.
"It's great for hurling in the city because you have so many kids on the street pucking a ball."
Collins felt there was no pressure on their club to deliver.
"When you're not favourites, it gives you a lot more emphasis on actually performing on the day.
"Gort had a lot of pressure and they obviously lost last year and there was no real pressure on us.
"OK, we had a real dogged year of getting over the line by a point or two carrying into Sunday's final. But what a day to be hurling in the city."
Collins said Liam Mellows knew they'd have to score goals against Gort to beat them and they delivered, scoring three before Richie Cummins responded with one.
"We knew we had to go against them.
"It was a point that we picked out, that if we ran at them they'd struggle and it's really what happened."
Liam Mellows had 134 training sessions, according to the manager, since December 1 last year and Collins says he understands how Clare won an All-Ireland title with Mulqueen involved.
"I can see how Clare won that All-Ireland. Mulqueen is disciplined and his ability to read a team and to get in their heads and focus on the real need. I had the pleasure of working with him all year."