With just three teams taking part in the 2018 pre-season tournament, Cork will qualify for a final meeting with Clare if they beat Waterford in Dungarvan on Sunday. “If Cork beat Waterford, I presume we’ll make one game of it. It would make no sense to play two. Maybe common sense isn’t that common but that’s what I’d be hoping for,” Collins said.
Both teams featured 10 players making their débuts but Clare were significantly more threatening in attack. Their full forward line hit 1-14 between them, with Lissycasey’s Conor Finnucane kicking 0-8, while Éire Óg’s Eimihin Courtney had five points from play.
“They’re two excellent finishers and anything they got on, they punished. Gearóid (O’Brien) is very dynamic in the middle as well and got his just rewards for a lot of hard work.
“Alan Sweeney has worked exceptionally hard and was a good outlet at centre forward,” Collins added.
A 12th minute Cathal O’Connor goal helped Clare into 1-7 to 0-6 interval lead, although Waterford did have plenty of possession.
However their shooting was poor, with the exception of the impressive Jason Curry, who kicked 0-7.
“We had eight wides and six balls into the keeper’s hands,” Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey said of their first-half display.
“We had 19 chances in the first half. Clare took their chances and that gulf in class between Division 2 and Division 4 showed.
“That was our first football session. We’ve had no football because the club championship ran until December and we haven’t had our players together.” Clare made four changes at half-time and dominated the second half with full forward O’Brien goaling while Conor Murray netted Waterford’s goal in injury time.
Clare boss Collins is confident that players like Gary Brennan, Eoin Cleary and David Tubridy will have returned from injury come the start of NFL Division 2.
“We hope to have everybody bar Kevin Harnett available for the first game of the league, which is as good as we could hope for. The focus is on Cavan on January 27,” Collins said.
Meanwhile, Tom McGlinchey admits the spring campaign is Waterford’s main focus. “League is our championship. It will be easier to talk in three weeks time when we have everyone back but all we’re focusing on now is Wicklow on January 28. That’s the big one.”
C Finnucane (0-8, 4f), E Courtney (0-5), G O’Brien (1-1), C O’Connor (1-0), S Collins (0-2), K Malone (0-1), D Egan (0-1).
J Curry (0-7, 3f), C Murray (1-0), G Crotty (0-1), M Kiely (0-1).
K Roche; J Blake, C Brennan, G Kelly; S Collins, A Fitzgerald, J Culligan; D Bohannon, C O’Connor; P Lillis, A Sweeney, K Malone; E Courtney, G O’Brien, C Finnucane.
E Tubridy for K Roche (half-time), E Collins for J Blake (half-time), D Egan for P Lillis (half-time), T Hannon for J Culligan (half-time), J Hannon for S Collins (53), E O’Connor for G Kelly (55).
D Whitty; C McCarthy, G Cullinan, A Trihy; K Murphy, S Prendergast, S Ryan; C McGuire, D Guiry; E O’Brien, J Veale, J Curry; G Crotty, P Walsh, C Murray.
A Walsh for K Murphy (half-time), M Kiely for E O’Brien (43), K Power for C McGuire (46), E O’Brien for J Veale (66).
P O’Driscoll (Cork)