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Former Galway hurler David Collins is a key player for Liam Mellows.

Former Galway hurler David Collins is a key player for Liam Mellows.

David Collins enjoying Mellows march

By Cian O'Connell

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David Collins smiles when trying to make sense of it all. Galway terminated a 29 year search for Liam MacCarthy in September, Collins was on the beat for 13 of those.

Working, dreaming, scheming, hoping that one day a Celtic Cross might be gleaned. Collins’ deep service to the maroon and white cause won’t be forgotten. With Liam Mellows preparing for a first Galway SHC Final since 1970 Collins, found a way to stay relevant in the hurling world.

“It was the weirdest year ever,” Collins reflects on a chilly evening in the west. “Working for RTE doing the commentary on it was a nice distraction because when you are in the stand watching you can't do anything about it. It was just a distraction, I had a job.

“When I'm busy I'm fine. When I think about something, I overthink things. Like that you question yourself was it the right decision was it not? I'm a highly competitive person, but it is a young lads game.

“Young lads came in and took the jersey, they led from the front that is what it is all about. We served our time, there were 28 years of lads that didn't win All Irelands. Kevin Broderick, Joe Rabbitte, Eugene Cloonan and these boys, they all put the shoulder to the wheel and didn't come out with anything. Of course I'd miss it, you would have loved an All Ireland, but what can you do?”

Things have just been a bit different for Collins in 2017. “Yeah, it has been full Mellows,” Collins states. “When I look back on the year I will look back with great pride. I spent 13 years at inter-county level, you miss the years with your club and your friends.

“You start with the club and you finish with the club, that is where I'm going to end up. If you told me at the start of the year when I finished that Galway would win an All Ireland and that Mellows would be in a County Final I definitely would have taken it because the commitment that is there.

“My career was suffering at inter-county level, I wasn't really progressing and I was injury free so it was the right time for me to go. If it has benefitted the club in any way then fantastic and I think it has.”

There is no point dwelling on how we got there, we have to go out to perform.

Mellows have plotted an unlikely and unexpected path through the demanding environs of the Galway Championship.

“If you had asked me earlier on in the year if I would be hurling in December, you'd be thinking Please God, not in relegation, it is fantastic,” Collins says.

“Obviously it is great for the club to be in it, especially where we came from. It is a blessing in disguise, the year we've had and the year Galway hurling has had. It is amazing, but it is all about winning now really. There is no point dwelling on how we got there, we have to go out to perform.”

In Galway city, Mellows have invested significant time, energy, and effort in their underage teams during the past decade. That is why Sunday’s Pearse Stadium contest with Gort carries such weight.

“A lot of these lads have good experience from Under 21 level,” Collins acknowledges. “Last year they lost to Turloughmore in a fantastic county final, okay we lost it, but there was great hurling in it and the replay.

“So our boys have experience and they also have hurt too which counts for a lot, no more than myself between losing All Irelands. You remember these occasions, but now we need to put the shoulder to the wheel.”

David Collins celebrating following Galway's 2016 All Ireland SHC Quarter-Final win over Clare.
David Collins celebrating following Galway's 2016 All Ireland SHC Quarter-Final win over Clare.

Louis Mulqueen’s imprints are on this team too according to Collins. “We've had a fantastic year in terms of training, Louis has brought something special to it. He really has brought inter-county experience and the ability to man manage, that really has been to the fore.”

“He is buzzing, he just loves hurling. Mulqueen was with Ger Loughnane when he was managing Galway, I never really got to know him back in them days.

“I really got to learn what he is actually about this year, credit where credit is due, he is hurling to the core, he is an absolute lunatic for it, he eats, sleeps, and drinks it. You can't question that and our lads believe in that. They have bought into it, you see where it has brought us.”

Throughout his service on the inter-county stage Collins responded following injuries and disappointments.

The next game or challenge brought an opportunity, a chance. That is all Collins craved. For decades Mellows kept hurling alive in the city of Galway so Sunday’s occasion will reward a few generations.

Collins is content to have been a central figure in Mellows march.

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