It’ll take a win in September to silence all the doubters.
David Collins knows as much when it comes to the Galway hurlers, but the 2012 All Star is adamant that his former colleagues and reigning league champions have the personnel, the physical prowess, and the leadership needed to do just that.
As for consistency and the required mental fortitude? Those juries are still out.
Released along with a string of other veterans from the panel by Michéal Donoghue during the off-season, Collins was impressed by what he saw in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds last month when the county put Tipperary to the sword to claim a first NHL crown in seven years.
“The only thing is, people reading into it too much,” he said.
“They need to replicate it again and again.”
Donoghue made a big statement when informing players such as Collins, Fergal Moore and Andy Smyth that their services weren’t required anymore but the rout of Tipp was a persuasive counter to the argument that too much nous was lost at once.
Collins sees players like Adrian Tuohy, Adrian Harte, Cathal Mannion, and Jason Flynn as proof that the county lacks nothing for men able to fill any void.
He believes this a team that can achieve great things, if their heads are right, starting with their Leinster opener against Dublin this month.
“Even Conor Whelan, like these young guys coming through. 21 or 22, and he’s loving it.
“His physique, his ability to win the hard balls and graft: He turned over two Limerick fellas a couple of weeks ago and you hadn’t seen that in Conor before.
“I loved hurling with the likes of him and Cathal and even watching Tuohy, Tuohy was one key guy I see coming through.
“A fantastic athlete, has everything in abundance. Daithí Burke the same way and Johnny Coen in midfield.”
The mental side of things is less easily calibrated.
“Yeah, because you can see it, the physicality of the Galway lads,” Collins said.
“They are huge big players. There is no problem with fitness.
“It’s just in the head, on the day, and what you turn up with and what you can bring to it.”
As for Collins himself, he bears no regrets or grudges.
He was already making for the exit when Donoghue opened the door and, though the panel is open-ended, he is happy now to dedicate himself to the club and throw himself into his new role as president of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA).
“Yeah, if I was younger I’d love to be back out there. I’m not, I’ve had my time. No regrets. I’m enjoying it from where I am. It is difficult to sit out of it because you are in it for 13/14 years and they are your best friends when you are in there.
“You’d die for all of them, and then to lose that ... but I am back with the club now and the club is fantastic. You are kind of living it again, living hurling and loving the training. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve had my time.
“Please God the boys can do it in September.”
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