As he watched his former Galway colleagues reaching the peak on All-Ireland final Sunday from the Croke Park press box in his brief as an analyst, there was plenty of mixed emotions for David Collins, writes John Fogarty.
There was speculation he with other veterans had been pushed out by Micheál Donoghue but after Liam Mellows’ historic win on Sunday manager Louis Mulqueen claimed his 33-year-old joint-captain had taken the decision to give a stronger pledge to the club.
Collins explained his reasoning: “I knew my time was coming to an end with Galway. I had my work done. I’m too competitive. I don’t want to be standing on the sideline.
Okay, I had two or three years there where I was trying to get on the team and not making it but I was fit and healthy and I wanted to give my full commitment to the club and it was really ‘Louis, you come, I’ll commit’ and we worked it out that way. Galway went on and won an All-Ireland and that’s fantastic.”
Although Liam Mellows filled the void and his extra devotion paid off, Collins was thankful for the work with RTÉ as he learned to deal with inter-county retirement: “It gave me a job and it gave me something to think about. Of course, I wanted to be there, I fought 13 years to win that elusive All-Ireland. Micheál has such a bond and a commitment with that team and fair play to them, they stepped up to the mark.
“We could only bring them so far and I have to pay credit to the likes of Andy Smith, Iarla Tannian, Cyril Donnellan, Fergal Moore... these lads got no credit, no plaudits for what they done over the years. It was a credit to play with them over the years.”
Marking his old Galway team-mate Aidan Harte on Sunday brought back memories but where the Gort man has his success in September the county final was Collins’ turn. The process began last December as Mulqueen set about waking what he called “a sleeping giant”.
Collins applauded the Clareman’s diligence. “That’s him down to a tee. We started off and he was ‘right, lads, here’s the plan, here’s the structure, we’re going to follow it to a tee’ and we did. We had lots of injuries. Look at John Lee there – John Lee who soldiered for Galway... I remember running behind him and the next thing the leg went and you heard this crack and you’re kind of going ‘Awww’.
“It’s about doing it for those fellas, that is what it’s about. When you have a plan there and commitment from a team and commitment from the committee you’re going places.”
A February 10 All-Ireland semi-final clash with Cuala will see Collins face his former Galway selector Mattie Kenny. “I know Mattie and I know his attention to detail and his commitment to Cuala. I’m not going to doubt for one minute that he’ll put a serious effort in and he’s going to know who our key players are and what we need to do but Louis also has the experience. I can see how Clare won that All-Ireland. Like, Mulqueen, he’s disciplined and his ability to read a team and to get in their heads and focus on the real need. I had the pleasure of working with him all year. It was fantastic.”
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