O’Brien has been hailed as the conduit between the Banner County’s senior football and hurling team squads, due to his close friendship with Davy Fitzgerald.
Despite committing exclusively to hurling in 2015, Collins has managed to juggle both codes this year after returning from cruciate knee ligament damage, and finished the campaign as a dual medallist. The player’s father, Clare senior football boss Colm, has name-checked O’Brien as the man who makes the arrangement tick.
But O’Brien insists his impact has been overstated, and credited the respective managers instead.
O’Brien said: “From talking to Davy and talking to Colm, you had a player that really believed he could do both, really wants to try and do both and everyone just said, ‘Look, we’ll see if it works’. That was it. We come up with a schedule to see if it could work and that’s what’s happening now.
“Like people had a thing there before the League final, ‘He’s being released’ or ‘He’s being released to play hurling’ or ‘He’s being released to play football’.
“Everybody is just on a schedule and all games and all eventualities were filled in and they’re just happening. Podge knows where he is in a month’s time, depending on what game is on. It’s working for him.”
And O’Brien insisted Fitzgerald’s touchline persona is far removed from the man that he knows primarily as a friend. He explained: “If you needed something tomorrow and you had to pick your phone up and ask somebody that’s definitely going to help you, he’d be one of the first ones that I would ring.
“What comes across on the television, a lot of it is to take the pressure off the lads he wants to perform. He has no problem doing that, other people wouldn’t do it. If you need something and he can help you, he’ll help you.
“That seems to be the case with the buzz in the hurling set up at the minute, that the players know that they don’t want for anything, we don’t want for anything but that’s probably down to the two managers that are involved. They will do anything in their power for their players.” O’Brien added: “I think people look at Davy and say, ‘Oh he’s lost the plot’. I don’t think Davy ever loses the plot.
“It’s just from talking to him, you’ll get a wink. He could be shouting at someone for a minute and then you’ll just get a wink and you’re just kind of going, ‘I’ve lost the plot and I wouldn’t be able to wink at someone!’
“It is what it is, he just loves it and he’s not going to shirk from that at any stage.
“If he thinks something will give his team an edge or the players more protection or whatever it is, he’ll say it or do it.”