Cratloe preparation perfect down to a tea, explains Podge

It certainly wasn’t your traditional county final celebration but Podge Collins wouldn’t have it any other way.

Far from painting the village red on Saturday evening, cryotherapy and a light pool session is how the footballers of Cratloe marked the club’s maiden senior football title.

Once the necessary recovery measures were completed in preparation for the Munster championship visit of Ballinacourty, the Collins’ quartet of Podge, manager Colm, half-forward Sean and sub David retreated to the kitchen table where the three-point victory was dissected over a pot of a tea.

“Football is my dad’s big thing so to win a county title with him over us is huge to me and my two brothers,” smiled the All Star hurler.

“I know we were not celebrating or anything, but just sitting at home on Saturday night, having a cup of tea and a chat was really enjoyable after winning a county final. He (Colm) grew up in Kilmihil, football country, back in west Clare. He won one in 1980 so it is nice to win one ourselves with him as a manager. Our house is now as happy as it could be.”

Outside a jubilant Cratloe dressing room on Sunday after their provincial success, the 21-year old penned his signature to a hurley passed around by team-mate Cathal McInerney. Brendan Bugler was also stopped before exiting the ground. Two of the club’s younger supporters eagerly awaited the return of the hurley, laden with autographs of Clare’s All-Ireland hurling heroes — the players’ reputation as burgeoning footballers still alien to some.

“It has been incredible the past few months,” admitted McInerney.

“A lot of us in that dressing room had a great day in September and it’s unbelievable to share these days with our clubmates because they deserve it as much as we did in September.

“I suppose it is ironic in such a great hurling year that we will finish it playing football. That is the joy of playing with a dual club. We love both codes and we put everything into both.”

The 22-year old, introduced late on in Clare’s replay victory over Cork, claimed the quick turnaround between Saturday’s county final and Sunday’s provincial semi-final was never going to be an issue given the team’s age profile, but stressed the importance of home advantage.

“It wasn’t that difficult at all, really. It was a great privilege to be playing Munster club after winning a county final on Saturday. After we beat Doonbeg it was all about recovery strategies. Fair play to our management they got us into the cryotherapy, then we hit the pool doing a bit stretching just trying to keep fresh for Sunday.

“A lot of us are young lads and that is a great bonus. We do have a few older lads and that probably balances it out. A few lads were complaining going to the match on Sunday saying that they were wrecked or whatever. A lot of us couldn’t wait to get out there. It would have been a long drive to Waterford had we to travel. Thank God that we were at home.”

As for the possibility of doubling up at inter-county level in 2014?

“We haven’t really thought about that yet. We will just finish off the year with our clubs. We’ll think about that a bit more when it comes to the time to start training with the county.”


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