Liam Collins isn’t a superstitious individual by any stretch of the imagination, but says the omens for Sunday’s decider are certainly positive.
The reigning champions annexed a first county title back in 1989, with their leading lights in the win over St Finbarr’s — John Cleary, Larry Tompkins and Niall Cahalane — prominent figures on Cork’s All-Ireland-winning outfit that same autumn.
Fast forward then to this current campaign with the Cork team once more featuring three of ’Haven’s finest.
“It has been a massive help to have Mark (Collins), Brian (Hurley) and Damien (Cahalane) in with the county set-up,” said the experienced corner-back.
“The last time we had three lads on the Cork senior football team was Larry, John and Niall. Not alone were Cork going well at that time, Castlehaven were flying it. We won two county titles with those lads around. When you have lads playing with the county it brings the best out of them while also driving on the club players.”
Collins cut his teeth at senior level while the latter three were still on the scene, lining out at midfield in his debut season in 1997.
“We lost the county final that year to Beara, but went on to win the Munster title. After that there was a barren spell and I suppose I have played through a lot of the harder years where the teams haven’t been as strong, the result weren’t as good and summers not as long.
“This is a reasonably young team we have now, but the lads love training and love football. The young lads want to win as much as they can. That’s why we are back in the final for a third year on the hop.
“In the semi-final we were a point down with 10 minutes to go and it did look like we were heading out. We worked really hard. We never gave up. We kept on attacking and attacking and it paid of.
“We had two goal chances near the end and though they didn’t come off, we kept plugging away. There is great character in this team. When you have the likes of full-back David Limerick going up the field and getting a point, that is very important.
“He was willing to do what needed to be done for the team. We may have beaten Nemo earlier in the championship, but it’ll be a case on Sunday of the city boys wanting to put the West Cork lads back in their box.”
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