Colm Collins is in his fourth year as Clare football manager. He is also on his fourth coach, leading the man himself to quip: “I must be very difficult to get on with”.

Former Cork footballer Paudie Kissane served as coach in 2014, Ephie Fitzgerald took up the mantle a year later, with Dublin’s Mick Bohan coming on board as the county reached a first All-Ireland quarter-final last summer. 

Bohan continued the tradition of spending just the one season in the role, cutting ties with the Banner County last October.

All three departed the scene amicably, with Galway’s 2013 All-Ireland winning U21 manager Alan Flynn the latest to join Collins on the sideline. 

The Clare manager says he’s “blessed” to have secured the services of such an “excellent” coach as they are a relatively rare commodity in GAA.

“It’s ironic in a way that [hurling and football] are our two big games in the country and you could number the amount of really good coaches. There aren’t that many in my opinion,” Collins believes. 

It is his opinion there are several people serving as coaches who have a perfect grasp of the game but struggle to convey this knowledge to the players working under them.

“There are two things; you have to understand the game in front of you and then you have to coach the game implicitly. Get your message across and make sure your message gets across. 

"It’s the old story of the brilliant teacher who writes all the maths books and he can’t impart the knowledge to the kids in a class situation.

“It’s much the same thing [in the GAA]; the people who are blessed with this knowledge of the game and then there is man management, having a relationship with the people you coach and being able to impart what they have in their head. It’s a gift that not many people have.

“We’ve been blessed because we’ve had some really good coaches. I knew about Alan [Flynn] from his days with the Galway U21s and a mutual friend recommended him.

“I rang him and, thankfully, he accepted. I liked his attitude and his philosophy in football. He’s been a tremendous addition.”

Limerick provide the opposition for their Munster championship opener this Sunday at Ennis, the third consecutive quarter-final meeting between the counties. 

Collins’ men are aiming for a three-in-a-row of championship wins over their neighbours and it would be somewhat of a surprise if this didn’t materialise given Clare’s mid-table finish in Division 2.

“It’s all going in the right direction, hopefully. Beating Cork in the league was good for the players to see that they can compete with these kinds of players.

“These things are all part of the journey. The one thing that you notice about Division 2 is the mistakes you get away with in the lower divisions, you don’t get away with them up there.

“And if you’re not where you should be or you are out of position, you get punished. It’s a learning curve.

“They are doing very well and there are a tremendous bunch of players there. They’re quite capable of improving more this year.

“Against Kerry last year in the Munster semi-final, we didn’t do ourselves justice. We would be hoping if we got back there we could do ourselves justice.”


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