Tuesday 13 November 2018

'Limerick don't need my advice, they're an exceptional group'

Podge Collins: ‘I never really thought after 2013, “this is going to happen for years to come”. Photo: Sportsfile
Podge Collins: ‘I never really thought after 2013, “this is going to happen for years to come”. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

It was only during the summer of 2018 that Podge Collins could finally leave his injury nightmare behind him and rediscover the type of form which helped Clare claim All-Ireland SHC honours in 2013.

Jack McCaffrey's seamless transition back into the Dublin football fold this year after a cruciate knee ligament injury is the exception rather than the rule, something Collins appreciates more than most.

Three years after surgery and "breaking down" with a variety of muscle problems, the 26-year-old was back to his dynamic best as the Banner fell just short of Munster honours and an All-Ireland final spot.

"This year was definitely the first year where I felt fully right and it was probably a case of easing myself back into it as the year went on," the Clare star said ahead of the Fenway Hurling Classic on November 18 in Boston.

Problem

"I was chatting to Andy Moran and he said it took him three years to be back fully to his best so it does take time. You can be back on the field in six or seven months, no problem. Aron Shanagher did it with Clare and he was perfect, but just to get up to the level of consistency that's required takes a few years."

Collins showed several glimpses of what he can offer - highlighted by an inspirational performance off the bench against Tipperary in Munster - which coincided with Clare getting back to Croke Park for the first time since lifting Liam MacCarthy.

Considering all the recent doom and gloom, it was a refreshing change for optimism to replace pessimism in the Banner and the former dual star could get used to it.

The tag of underachievers is generally thrown their way but Collins insists it hasn't been for the want of trying.

"It might seem that way because we haven't won anything since. People from the outside might think that, but I definitely never thought that. I was happy with how things were going," the Cratloe attacker said.

"I never felt like we deviated from training. We trained hard and worked as hard as we could. From my own point of view when I look back on my career, I don't want to be like, 'I could have given it more.'

"I always want to say that you looked after yourself as best you could, you trained as hard as you could and you gave yourself the best opportunity to play as well as you could in your sport.

"And not to be thinking about it afterwards going, 'oh, I shouldn't have gone drinking there for those three years', or gone travelling for a year or two or whatever it is.

"I really want to give myself every opportunity to do as well as I can, and I think most of the lads I'm involved with are very driven guys and they look after themselves.

"If you see the shape they are in and the athleticism they have, they do look after themselves.

"It hasn't really happened and that's unfortunate, but we just give it a go every year and pray it might be our year.

"From a young age I was always told 'this could be your last one' - whether it was club or schools. I never really thought after 2013, 'this is going to happen for years to come.' I take every year on its merits and give it as best a go as I can and see how it goes."

Comparisons with 2013 have grown tiresome given that "it's a completely different team" and only seven of the 20 players involved in their All-Ireland win played in this year's semi-final replay defeat to Galway.

Having claimed a Celtic Cross while still U-21, Collins can relate to the aftermath of Limerick's breakthrough success and believes they have carried themselves with aplomb.

"I don't think they need any advice, I think they've handled themselves very well from being in Limerick and being out a few nights and seeing them," he said.

"They look after themselves very well and manage themselves well. They're an exceptional group and I think they're handling it very well."

Irish Independent

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