Collins returns from injury in time for this year's Championship campaigns across both codes
Returning from injury can be a lonely time for an athlete. Long nights in rehabilitation, hours alone doing work in the pool or the gym to try return to full sharpness.
Clare dual star Podge Collins can relate to that.
The 24-year-old returns from his cruciate knee ligament injury and has admitted already to having low points during the journey.
But with the cut and thrust of the Championship upon us once again, Collins returns more eager than ever to represent his county across both codes and says he's not currently looking to tie himself to one panel.
"I don’t think you can plan anything, I’ll take it game by game and see how it goes," said the 2013 All-Star, "I think the point of the hurling management is a very valid one and because of the commitment in the GAA at the moment you nearly want to focus your time on one panel.
"It nearly is a full time job. That’s not saying a bad thing about it I love playing it and wouldn't change a thing about it but you can see where they are coming from but like I said I’ll play it by ear and see how it goes and take it from there next year. When everything is going well no one in Clare will be giving out and none of the supporters will have a problem with it.
Collins in action against Waterford in the league final with Waterford. Image: ©INPHO/Ken Sutton
"We won both leagues and when you are winning everything is right and everything is happy and when you are losing that’s when people will get on to you and that’s when it is a problem.
"You don’t know what will happen in the championship, for now it’s all happy and we’ll see how we get on this year and take it from there. I won’t be looking past the Limerick game and then the Waterford game."
Collins admits that playing across both codes has become more difficult, when you consider the demands placed on the player, but insists he wouldn't like to see it done away with altogether.
"I’d love if it was made possible especially for younger lads. The way it is gone at senior level it can be very hard to do both but I’d love see players accommodated to do both at minor. Some people prefer hurling and some prefer football and you will always have divides in counties and some clubs just do football and some do hurling but they are all our native sports under one organisation and I feel it should be encouraged at minor level. If you are good at hurling and football you want to play both.
"Like with Tipperary when they got to both All-Ireland [minor] finals and lost. You had the hurling people in Tipp saying, 'If they weren't in the football, they probably would have won the hurling'.
"The same the other way around. But what had they to produce to prove themselves? They got to both All-Ireland finals like. I think any minor team in the country would be delighted to get to an All-Ireland final and they came up that bit short so if they won the double would everyone be saying it's possible. It's small margins."
With regards to his injury, Collins says there is a temptation to rush back if he feels as fit as before. However, he does acknowledge that programmes are put in place for a reason.
"A lot of players go through it. A lot of people are doing their ACL. You hear it all the time in clubs. It's actually the amount of people are doing it at the moment. It's nine months, it's a killer. When you pick up a hand injury or a knock or a hamstring injury you know that in three weeks I can get back. You've a goal straight in front of you. But with a nine-month injury it is a long way back. I've a lot of admiration for Colm O'Neill who has come back from it three times, I'll tell you that.
"I knew there was a rehab programme put in place and once the nine months had elapsed I knew I’d be OK because the physio was very happy after three months and four months it was all positive so I was looking forward to getting back on the field.
"I spend a lot of my time rehabbing with a hurl in my hand so it's not like I put the hurl down for nine months and picked it up again. People would be nearly forgiving of you when you're coming back from a long injury. If I make a few mistakes in the game they'd be like, 'He's just back from injury' whereas a month or two down the line I won't be as forgiven for them."
Podge Collins was at Centra’s Live Well hurling launch in CLG Na Fianna which included the announcement that the retailer will continue its sponsorship of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship up to 2019. As part of this year’s campaign Centra has introduced a series of #GetActive hurling challenges to encourage fans of all ages to pick up a hurl, test their skills and upload their videos to win big prizes.