Collins speaks out on his dual dilemma

Podge Collins has admitted there was only ever going to be one outcome when Davy Fitzgerald told him to choose between Clare hurling and football.

Collins speaks out on his dual dilemma

But the 2013 All-Ireland medallist and All-Star admitted he still agonised over the situation for several weeks and felt physically unwell while weighing up his options.

Collins, 22, ultimately informed Fitzgerald that he was going to focus exclusively on football in 2015, a decision his brother, Sean, also came to.

It’s a major loss to the hurlers as they seek to bounce back from a poor 2014 campaign, and Podge was adamant he could have continued his dual role.

But Fitzgerald’s mind was made up and the player himself said his own stubborn side kicked in when presented with a take it or leave it scenario.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, I was in work and getting down about it, I didn’t feel well,” said bank official Podge. “I was in a bad mood and getting grumpy with people I shouldn’t have been getting grumpy with.”

The Cratloe man, who has helped his club to a historic county title double, insisted his county decision wasn’t influenced by his father, Colm, who manages the Clare footballers.

“I knew there was a good set-up and good players there with the football,” he continued. “They are a great group of lads and I knew I was going to let down a set-up either way. My father wasn’t really a factor.

“It was a weight off my shoulders, when I’d made the decision. It was over and I could just get on with the club. To be honest, I didn’t even want to make the decision until the club scene was over but the fact that we had gone so far then (at club level) meant I had to make it.

“So I just said to myself, ‘listen, make the decision now, it’s in your head, that’s what you’ve always said so stand by it’.

“One of the things which I hadn’t thought about all that much was the great hurling following we have, especially with the kids and stuff like that. I was getting messages on Facebook and different stuff like that.

“You kind of feel you are letting them down but you have to make your decision and that’s it. I don’t know if they understand but hopefully they will. Letting fans down and stuff like that, it’s hard but there are football fans as well so you can’t let that be a factor in your decision.”

Collins insisted that had it been the other way around, and his own father had made him choose between county football and hurling, he would have put hurling first. “Afraid so,” he said.

Collins was one of the pivotal players in Clare’s All-Ireland winning season, though he suffered a drop in form this year. He flatly rejected it was down to his dual commitments.

“I honestly think that’s nonsense,” he said. “The Wexford game was only starting and I did something stupid and got myself sent off. In the Cork game, myself and Shane O’Neill... only two balls were hit down to us.

“I don’t think the dual thing is why I had a bad year, things just didn’t run for me and that’s fair enough. Last year the ball just kept breaking for me, and that’s GAA.

“I don’t believe you lose your touch (by playing football). If you’re willing to give your time to go down to the alley and the pitch, I really do think it’s achievable.

“Davy felt it didn’t work last year and that’s fair enough, so in 2015 it won’t be happening, and I don’t think I’ll be changing his mind.”

Asked if he tried to talk Fitzgerald around, Collins nodded.

“I tried,” he said. “It’s nothing personal, there’s no hard feelings. He said, ‘look, I felt it didn’t work this year’ and I said, ‘if that’s your feeling on it, there’s no player bigger than the manager of Clare. You’ve the final word’.”

Collins will play for the Cratloe hurlers this weekend in the Munster club championship. They face Waterford champions Ballygunner.

“We played them in 2009 down there, they beat us,” he said. “Their team seems very strong. We’re hoping it’ll be a good game but it’s very tough going down to Waterford. You don’t know what to expect in the Munster club, you just do your best.”

As for the rare county double, Collins said it came into focus after seeing Loughmore-Castleiney do it in Tipperary last year. “It was nearly a goal for us after seeing Loughmore do it,” he admitted. “We wanted it and knew it’d be an unbelievable achievement.”

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