Collins motivated by noisy neighbours
By John Harrington
When Limerick defeated Galway in the All-Ireland SHC Final, Clare hurler Podge Collins knew it was time to get out of Dodge.
Living in an apartment above Supermacs in the heart of Limerick City, he wasn’t in the mood for having a front row seat for what he knew would be the raucous celebrations to come.
He moved back home to Cratloe in Clare for a couple days, but even when he figured things might have calmed sufficiently for him to take up lodgings in Limerick again he found out the hard way that his rivals were still revelling.
“I went in on the Tuesday,” said Collins at the launch of the playing kits for the Fenway Hurling Classic in Boston.
“I was like, right, I’ll move my stuff back in and settle back in, but there was a fella outside my apartment, on the street outside my apartment, just banging this big massive drum!
“I was like, I’m not ready yet, so I turned the car around and drove back out the road.
“I definitely wouldn’t begrudge one of them, they deserve it and fair play to them. They grabbed it with both hands. I was at the game and I wouldn’t even be envious of them, I’d just be like fair play to them, they deserved it.”
He doesn’t begrudge Limerick their success, but watching his neighbouring county lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup has only made him all the more determined to do the same with Clare in 2019.
“Definitely,” said Collins. “One thing I know is that once the final whistle blows in the All-Ireland final and one team is celebrating, every other team is like ‘right, next year.’
“That’s the way it’s gone. Every inter-county team will have interacted in some way by this stage...We go to Boston for this Fenway Classic and the team will be together for that, the Munster League starts in December, then the League goes and before you know it you’ve championship.
“Limerick winning the All-Ireland is forgotten about at that stage, that’s the nature of it.”
Clare might have come up just agonisingly short in this year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Galway, but Collins still takes a lot of positives from the year.
Since winning the 2013 All-Ireland title Clare hadn’t really been mapped as serious contenders, but this year they were very much back in the mix which counts as significant step in the right direction.
“2013 was something we’ll always have but let’s say for example Mayo, who have been a championship team for the last eight, nine, ten years, you’d much rather nearly be like that for your own morale, for the dressing room,” said Collins.
“Since 2013, we weren’t competing at where we thought we should be and this year we probably were - so the aim now is to keep that consistency going. If we do, we’ll get opportunities and then it’s just down to us to take them.”
The 2018 Championship was also something of a rebirth for Collins himself.
Since the 2013 season a combination of injuries and football commitments seemed to dull his edge, but he was back to his effervescent best this year.
“Last year I put a big emphasis on trying to get right for the League and I did, but then I got three injuries before championship,” said Collins.
“This year, I didn’t put as much into it around January, eased myself into it and felt a lot better in the summer.
“Some games did go awfully for me, but I definitely enjoyed my hurling a lot more.”
Since Clare’s season ended in defeat to Galway in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final Collins has been in outstanding form for his club Cratloe.
That’s one of the reasons why they’ll contest Sunday’s County SHC Final against Ballyea, who themselves have been inspired by Collins’ Clare team-mate Tony Kelly in recent weeks.
The arithmetic for Cratloe going into this game is simple – to be crowned champions they must somehow stop Kelly in his tracks.
“Tony’s been playing exceptional stuff,” said Collins. “We really struggled with him the day we played them but he’s gone from strength to strength since that.
“The radar is definitely on but he’s got some big, strong physical lads around him too who are well able to win their own ball. They’re a very effective team.
“The way he’s playing at the moment, he’s nearly unstoppable. Hopefully I won’t be saying that Monday but judging by the last few games, I could be.
“His touch, his striking, his athleticism, he puts a lot of work into that too and he’s the full package now - he’s a very tough lad to mark.”