Friday 23 August 2019

'I had 19 shots and 18 of them went over the bar. I'm not going to have years like that'

"I'd never say that could have been us because I felt that they deserved to win last year," Collins (p) reflected. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

DONNCHADH BOYLE

Last September, Clare's Podge Collins could only sit in his house in Limerick and listen to the city party.

He was still digesting the near miss against Galway in the semi-final. Still dissecting the opening quarter of that game that ultimately brought the curtain down on Clare's season. And just maybe there was a part of him wrestling with the fact that his Clare team had beaten the newly-crowned All-Ireland champions just a few weeks earlier.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

"I'd never say that could have been us because I felt that they deserved to win last year," Collins reflected.

"I felt like they were probably the most consistent team. Against us they had nothing to play for. You can say what you want, they could have got up for that as much as they could have, but we had to win that game. So that's a big dynamic shift like and that's one thing about the Munster games.

"In the last game, if a team doesn't have something to play for, you'd wonder how those kind of games will go. We obviously had to go through so that's why it went so well for us. Against Cork, it was a very exciting game, neck and neck, but they dominated the All-Ireland final in fairness to them. Even though it was a one-point win, they deserved it throughout.

"I was actually living in Limerick city at the time when they won it so I was just keeping the windows and doors tightly shut. There was a lad walking down the street at 3.0 in the morning with a drum tied to his body, banging it. That's tough!"

If his career has taught him anything it's that time is precious. Clare's All-Ireland win is at once fresh in the memory and at the same time distant. There's been plenty of water under the bridge since then, not least a loss of form, a cruciate injury and a year with the footballers, and it has taught him.

"When I was a young lad coming through I was very much a big fan of Clare and I'd go to all the games and I'd be a real die-hard Clare fan. When I got involved in the team it became all about trying to get your place and trying to get on the team and trying to perform. It's nearly gone full circle now where I'm just enjoying it and last year, like, I just enjoyed it.

GAA Newsletter

Expert GAA analysis straight to your inbox.

"Even against Cork, I was a sub against Cork the first day (in the Munster SHC), watched that whole game from the stand and I was like, 'If I'm needed now, I'm needed and if I'm not, I'm not and just keep plugging away and trying your best off the field and if you're needed on the day, that's it.'

"So I suppose just taking that pressure off and just do what you can and whatever happens, happens and hopefully it works out and it if it doesn't, it doesn't."

For a while after the All-Ireland win of '13, Collins had put unrealistic expectations on himself.

"It's not like I went off the rails or anything like that. I very much looked after my diet and looked after my training and that's just the way it goes - 2013 was a particularly good year where everything just clicked. I had 19 shots and 18 of them went over the bar. I'm not going to have years like that.

"I was kind of trying too hard to control stuff that I shouldn't be trying to control and just concentrate on getting myself right for the team and just being part of that team environment and making sure that no matter what happens, I'm putting myself in the best position to play and help."

Clare and Collins put 2018 down as a year of progress, but progress in Munster is the main aim this time around as they look to see off Tipp.

"They're probably playing as good a brand of hurling as Tipperary have played. They're creating lots of space and they're getting their scorers on the ball and they're clinical. They're probably as good as I've ever seen them so they're a worrying prospect coming to Ennis, but listen, we'll watch them, we'll see what we can do to nullify their threats.

"Clare, we've only won six Munsters in 130-something years. 1998, '97, '95 and then after that the next one was like 1932 and then it was 1914 and I don't know when the other one was (1889). So it's not something that we've been successful in. It's obviously something that we have tried to address and we've obviously gone out to win them. Cork have beat us the last two years and it's been disappointing, but that's sport."

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: Tipp throw off the shackles while Kilkenny’s soul-searching begins

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport