COLM Collins said he thought “long and hard” before committing to a return as Clare senior football manager for another season.
Collins confirmed this week that he would be staying on in the role that has seen him lift Clare from division four to division two and to the brink of a place in football’s top tier.
It means an eighth year at the helm for the Cratloe man since succeeding Mick O’Dwyer, making Collins the longest serving manager with the same county in Gaelic football.
Clare’s preparations for a season unlikely to have a definitive roadmap for weeks to come are at a very early stage. Collective training is not allowed under the current level of restrictions so players are currently undertaking individual strength and conditioning programmes.
Collins and his backroom team have also started preliminary work on tactics via Zoom meetings
The Allianz leagues are expected to be pushed back from the original start dates of February 27 and 28 with a subsequent knock on effect for the beginning of the championship.
The changes could also mean reduced preparation time for teams.
Collins is realistic abut the challenges and difficulties faced by all teams in another year of uncertainty.
“We had a tough year last year and we’re facing a tough year to come this year as well. That’s a fact. Sure listen, that’s the way it is and its out of our control really isn’t it,” he said.
Collins continued, “Rob Mulcahy (strength and conditioning) is putting the players through an individual S&C programme and we’re doing some work on tactics with Declan O’Keeffe on Zoom. It’s quite difficult. There’s no question it’s difficult but that’s the reality of where we are and we have to work with it.”
“There’s nothing definite about what’s going to happen or what way the year is going to go. We just have to wait and see”.
Collins expects his backroom team from last season to remain comprised mostly of the same personnel with just one departure.
“It’s pretty much the same. Brian Carson, the football coach is not coming back. That’s the only change,” he said.
Collins admitted he had some doubts abut returning to the role but remains as determined as ever to have Clare in the best position possible to succeed whenever the season starts.
“Yeah, absolutely. It’s something I thought long and hard about. But as I said, we’re back now and that’s it and we’ll make the best we can out of it,” he said.
Collins has presided over a hugely impressive upturn in Clare’s football fortunes since taking over, guiding the county from division four to division two and seasons of successive championship victories.
Clare maintained their place in football’s second tier last season and were in the shake up for promotion to division one before loosing their final game against Armagh.
Clare exited the 2020 Munster Championship at the quarter final stages after being knocked out by eventual Munster champions, Tipperary.
By Ronan Judge