The 4-12 to 2-14 reverse at Elverys MacHale Park was the first competitive game that Cork have failed to win since Brian Cuthbert took charge as manager, though the Rebels remain top of Division 1, on eight points.
The Cork side against Mayo featured a number of up-and-coming players yet to play senior championship, such as Kevin Crowley, Alan Cronin, Conor Dorman and Colm O’Driscoll, and Collins believes that they will respond positively in their final two games, against Tyrone and Kerry.
“Things were going perfectly, so something was bound to go wrong, sooner or later,” he said.
“Obviously, we’re better off that it has happened now rather than further on down the line, when we wouldn’t have a chance to put things right.
“It probably suits us that there’s a week’s break now before the Tyrone match, we can try to focus again before the last two games. It’s nice to be tested like this, you get to see what players are made of.”
Mayo’s four goals brought Cork’s tally of green flags conceded to seven. Working on defending from the front and cutting out mistakes is paramount, according to Collins and it is something they will work on eradicating.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said, “especially as three of the four goals came from individual errors, I gave away a shocking ball for one of them.
“Mayo could maybe have even had a few more but for Ken [O’Halloran] and Shieldsy [Michael Shields] at the back, and it’s definitely something that needs working on.
“Having everybody defending from the front was something we have placed importance on, you can’t leave the full-back isolated, especially with the way the game has gone with the black card. Teams are putting up crazy scores so it’s important to tighten up, you’ll give yourself a great chance.”
In 12 days’ time, Tyrone — with 9-72 scored in five games — will be the visitors to Páirc Uí Rinn.
“You don’t want to be in a position where the last match is a must-win, so we can put ourselves in a great position if we win on Sunday week, it’s a massive game but Tyrone are a great team,” Collins said. “We’ll look forward to testing ourselves against them.”