Collins calls on Tribesmen to embrace hype
DAVID COLLINS believes it's time for Galway's hurlers to embrace the expectation that often envelops them and has brought them down in the past.
Collins, a current All Star half-back who has won his own personal battle to get back hurling at this level again, feels an All-Ireland title is "there" for Galway if their desire to push on is strong enough. Ahead of the visit of Tipperary to Salthill on Monday, Collins admits he welcomes the expectation that stalks the team again.
"We developed well and came under the radar so now everyone is expecting the same from us, which is a bit more difficult," said Collins at the announcement that Supermac's is to sponsor county hurling and football teams. "But you have to carry it. It's there for us if we want it bad enough and lads have to realise that.
"Expectation drives you on. There is a lot of it on everyone's shoulders in Galway. The hurling public in Galway want to see us winning. They've been starved of that for the last 24 years and we aim to change that. It's good to have that expectation there. If it wasn't, what would you be doing it for?"
Collins delivered a series of commanding performances at half-back last summer and he revealed how he likes to adhere to a system when it is put in place on the hurling field.
"I wouldn't be free-spirited with my hurling at all. It'd be more comfortable with a process. It's the same in business, the same in anything really.
"Once there is a process there I like to follow it. It's easier to run with something like that if you have everyone singing off the same hymn sheet. The likes of Kilkenny have been doing it for years."
Collins has rediscovered his best after a long spell on the sidelines that took him out of the equation with Galway in 2008 and '09.
A serious ankle injury sustained in the 2007 inter-provincial final almost ended his career before it had properly taken flight. It made his appearance in last September's All-Ireland finals all the more memorable because of where he had come from, realising one of the main goals he had set for himself.
"To get back and play in an All-Ireland final was a personal goal for me and a great achievement. It's my life so I felt I had to drive on," he said.
A lateral inversion of the ankle ligaments – a bad dislocation in simpler terms – had him switching from surgeon to surgeon in the search of hope. Finally he found one who was on the same wavelength as him.
"According to a few different consultants there was a fear that I wasn't going to play again. They were telling me one thing and I wasn't tending to agree with them," he said.
"I found a consultant that would agree and he promised to get it back to 85 and 90pc. He got it back to that and it was excellent. It took two operations to get there and a lot of work on balance and how to walk properly.
"It's great to get back to this level. Without hurling I wouldn't be who I am. But you need to win. I'm not coming back just to participate."
So far this season Galway have added a league win over Kilkenny to their Leinster title success last July but the 28-year-old is not too concerned about last weekend's defeat to Clare.
"We worked on a few things and they came off but our scoring let us down," Collins said. "We have a few little areas to improve on. We're not going to worry about it just yet. There are three more games left in the league so it's wide open."
The replayed All-Ireland final, he believes, will be valuable to the Tribesmen in the long term. "There is a great sense of team there at the moment and that All-Ireland replay is going to do those lads a world of good.
"That was a daunting task asking anyone to come in there twice in front of 82,000 people and perform at the top level and that's going to stand to them. Hopefully we will be able to carry it this year."