Colm Collins still relishing Clare challenge
By Cian O'Connell
Clare remain one of the great recent stories in Gaelic Football; Colm Collins has raised standards and expectations.
Suddenly the Banner boys believe and as the Allianz League drifts closer Collins wants Clare to make an impact in Division Two once more.
Before then, though, a raft of Clare newcomers will be involved in Saturday's McGrath Cup Final against Cork in Mallow.
Clare, who only started four of the team which played against Mayo in last year’s Championship in the win over Waterford, will adopt a similar approach for this weekend’s decider according to Collins.
“It will be the same story,” Collins tells GAA.ie. “Some of the young fellas who played against Waterford did very well so they deserve and have earned their chance again.
“That is the way it will be working. We are seeing what we can get out of those new players in this McGrath Cup.”
Increasing the depth of the Clare panel is the objective. “That would be very important,” Collins admits.
“You can't beat giving fellas an opportunity to play an inter-county game to see how they get on. That beats a lot of internal games. We would be hoping that we could uncover maybe four or five extra players from what we had last year.”
In the Waterford match 14 clubs in Clare were represented, a clear sign that Collins and his management team are searching the county for emerging talent.
“If we feel somebody deserves a chance we will take them in to have a look at them,” Collins states. “So far they have worked very hard and some of them have done really well.
“The fact that they are from a lot of different clubs is a bit of a co-incidence really. The important thing is that anybody recommended to us, we will have a look at them. That is the important thing.”
Ultimately it means Collins is adamant that Clare can continue to develop in the coming weeks and months. “Absolutely, I would feel that this group of players have a lot of potential,” Collins replies.
“I would feel that they haven't got to where they can go by a long shot so we would be hoping to drive it on again this year, to improve again. That is our genuine hope and we will work with that aim.”
Collins must plan without Joe Hayes, Dean Ryan, and Darren Nagle for the upcoming campaign. “We have lost Joe Hayes, who has been a great servant to Clare,” Collins adds.
“He has been fantastic, he has retired. Dean Ryan and Darren Nagle are both in Australia so they are out of the equation at the moment. Hopefully we will have a good strong panel with plenty of new lads coming in to replace them all going well.”
Former player Enda Coughlan has joined Collins’ well regarded backroom team. “Keith Hennessy is gone and we have replaced him with Rob Mulcahy as strength and conditioning coach. He is an excellent guy, Keith did an excellent job for us.
“David O'Brien, due to work commitments is out for the moment and he has been replaced by Enda Coughlan, who is a former player and he is very well respected in Clare football circles.
“Alan Flynn is still coaching, he is doing a really good job and we are very happy with the way things are going. Hopefully now we can put in a really good performance against Cork.”