Introducing Daniel Collins; the new breed of Kerry hurler.
Captain of his county at 21, adamant that the Division 1B newcomers can claim the scalp of Laois at O’Moore Park tomorrow and insistent Kerry’s year will have been a failure unless they emerge from the Leinster championship qualifying group in May. Ambitious, yes, but he’s got the attitude to match.
The potential is there, says the Kilmoyley half-back of Kerry’s ability to survive against the Offalys and Laois’ of the hurling world, it’s just a matter of fulfilling it.
Training has been ramped up to six nights a week under Ciarán Carey and you dare not be absent. You dare not be spotted with a pint in hand.
“There’s no messing about any more, the social life... we don’t have a social life any more. It’s gone,” says Collins.
“We’re focused, we’re going to have one big crack at it and we’ll see where it takes us. You could have been captain last year and you’d have known that you’re going to be favourites to win the Christy Ring and be standing above in Croke Park with the cup. This year, it’s all about the excitement of getting here - we’ve been waiting 12 months since we beat Antrim in the promotion play-off.
“We’re hungry and it’s probably the most exciting time in Kerry hurling since the nineties when they beat Waterford (1993).
“When I came in it was a matter of hoof it as long as you can, don’t even look. Now you have to place it, try to get it into the hand, cut out the hurley. It’s going to take a lot of time, a lot of work, for us to cut out the hurley. We’re working on it and hopefully it’ll come right. The speed of the game is far more intense, it’s an awful lot quicker and you’ve very little time on the ball. It’s just a learning curve really.
“Ciarán [Carey] reflects that it’s the top two inches that’s our problem - that we don’t believe enough in our own ability. You’re going to get games when you’re going to be beaten and beaten well but you just have to keep up the work-rate, keep the hooks and the blocks going.
“The tackling too is severe, we’re not really used to it. It’s a matter of coming to terms with it and hopefully it’ll make us better than what we are at the moment.”
Helping matters too was the Croke Park decision to clear Patrick Kelly to line out for the Kingdom for a second season.
“I know some fellas come down and play with us and they only use it as a stepping stone to go play somewhere else, but when Pa came down it was all about Kerry.
“He wanted to help Kerry hurling, he wanted to progress it and you could see that by what he’s done in trying to get free to play over the last couple of weeks and months.”
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