Boxing trainer Paschal Collins reckons Cuala will justify their favourites’ tag for the All-Ireland hurling club title after working with the Dublin and Leinster hurling champions in the build-up to their semi-final clash.
Cuala are odds on with the bookmakers both to end Slaughtneil’s fairytale in their last-four clash at the Armagh’s Athletic Grounds tomorrow and go on to become the first Dublin club to win the hurling championship on St Patrick’s Day.
However, Derry’s Slaughtneil are in inspired form following their footballers’ success in booking an All-Ireland final date, while their camogie team will also contest an All-Ireland final next weekend.
Collins, brother of two-weight world champion Steve, was brought in by Cuala boss Mattie Kenny to work with the Dublin champions on their mental preparation ahead of the semi-final.
The Dalkey side nearly let a seven-point half-time lead slip against Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin SHC final before claiming victory.
And Kenny called on Collins to help his side to focus on the need to close out games.
“They wanted me to come in and work on their mindset and their concentration and focus for every minute of the game,” explained Collins, head coach at the Celtic Warriors Gym in Dublin’s Corduff.
“Mattie wanted me to instil in them the idea that if you lose focus for even one second in a fight you can get knocked out and he wanted me to work on their focus to think like that during a match.
“Realistically, they’re probably favourites going into this game, but Mattie wants them to be mentally tough so in the last 10 minutes — or as I said, ‘the championship rounds’. So no matter what’s thrown at them, they’re ready for it and they can get through it and keep their focus too.”
The trainer, who has a number of fighters in action this weekend on a professional fight card at the National Stadium, also tested Kenny’s hurlers in the Celtic Warriors Gym in the build-up to this weekend’s clash.
“I was working with them once a week in the gym. I had them doing body sparring, boxing training and it really toughened them up. They’re tough lads,” said Collins.
“Mattie Kenny is open-minded to everything that can help him. He’s very positive but he does everything right,”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved