WHEN Podge Collins was beckoned from the dugout, along with Michael O’Shea, early in the second half in Dungarvan, it represented the hurling All-Star’s league debut for the county footballers.
His impact was immediate. Collins pointed a left-footed score, which came at a critical time for Clare.
It followed a sustained period of Waterford possession, which only resulted in a single Paul Whyte pointed free.
Collins’ point was similar to the left-footed effort he landed in the Munster club football semi-final against Ballincourty in Cusack Park last November.
“That one against Ballincourty was a bit of a fluke,” the UL student joked.
Sunday didn’t represent his debut for the senior footballers, as Collins played in the 2012 McGrath Cup, while he represented the county at U-21 level for three years. Prior to that, he played county football at every level, from U-14 to minor.
Playing both codes for Clare represents a major challenge. However, Podge, whose brother Seán worked hard at wing-forward, said it’s going ok so far.
“It’s grand. Colm [Collins] is talking to Davy [Fitzgerald] and there’s no-one giving out yet anyway,” he laughed.
The 2013 Hurler of the Year nominee isn’t finding it difficult mixing the hurling with the football.
“That doesn’t really come into it. It’s the same for both. I’m enjoying it at the moment and trying to get as much game time as I can,” he said.
On the football front, Collins is certain that Leitrim will provide Clare with a sizeable task this weekend.
“There’s going to be different challenges every week and we just have to concentrate on Leitrim now and see how we get on there. Hopefully, we’ll keep going and take our chances when we get them,” he added.
Playing club football at a high level with Cratloe prepared him for the tempo and physicality of inter-county football.
“Definitely there isn’t much of a difference from the Clare county final, the Ballincourty game or the Crokes game and last Sunday. It’s similar enough,” he said of the pace of the game against Waterford.
Meanwhile, Clare captain Gary Brennan was reasonably satisfied with Clare’s display.
“It’s always good to win. You have to be pleased with the performance overall. There are definitely aspects of it we’d want to work on for next week but it was good to get a win on the first day. We minded the ball well. A lot of the things we’ve been working on worked for us. That mightn’t always be the case but we got the start we wanted and then the goal from Martin [O’Leary] gave us a real footing in the game. It got a bit slippy and a bit wet there in the second half but we adapted fairly well,” he reflected outside the Clare dressingroom in Dungarvan.
He acknowledged that Clare were outplayed for a period at the start of the second half.
“That would definitely be a concern. Having been in a reasonably good position at half-time, we didn’t start the second half all that well. Eventually we did recover but it is definitely a concern the length of time it took us to recover. But you have to credit the lads. Some of their work rate was absolutely outstanding and those sorts of things turned it in our favour again,” he maintained.
The Clondegad midfielder acknowledged the work rate of the Clare forwards, who defended in numbers when Waterford had their most productive spell in possession. On one or two occasions Clare only had a single attacker in the Waterford half.
“It mightn’t always be supposed to be like that but it’s a sign that guys are looking to get back and looking to help out. Once guys are working hard, the result should follow,” he believes.