The resurgence of Podge Collins

Clare hurling legend Jamesie O'Connor was speaking about the ace forward on Off The Ball last night

The resurgence of Podge Collins

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Clare's National Hurling League campaign has been comparably worse than their title-winning season last year.

Not only has the Banner lost their Division 1 crown, the prospect of dropping to Division 1B is a real danger this weekend, as they face Dublin in a crucial home play-off.

For Clare to preserve their top Division status for 2018, they need their heavy hitters playing with the right rhythm on the pitch this Sunday.

Podge Collins has always been regarded as a key player in the Clare attack, and following a turbulent period in which he suffered a cruciate injury and attempted the dual-code challenge, he looks to have regained his form.

Since withdrawing from the football team, his hurling has excelled and Clare hurling legend Jamesie O'Connor has witnessed a sense of resurgence in Collins.

Speaking to Ger Gilroy and Shane Stapleton on Off The Ball last night, O'Connor said:

"Clare played their best half an hour's hurling of the entire League campaign last Sunday (against Waterford). They got off to a dreadful start and were 1-03 to no score down. And they looked like they were in real trouble and Podge was electric at centre-forward.

"They just played some really, really good hurling. There was good movement up front, there was a lot of really good diagonal stick passing and it was great stuff to watch.

"It was a disappointing result at the end of the day because they put themselves in a position to win the game and didn’t close it out.

Image: Podge Collins celebrates defeating Roscommon in the football qualifiers last year.

"You go back to even the qualifiers last Summer - Clare had a great win over Roscommon and three or four hours later, he’s expected to go out and play against Galway in the hurling and he made minimal impact in that game.

"Podge himself came to realise that it simply can’t be done and if he’s to be at his best, he has to concentrate on one (sport). Thankfully we’ve seen some real cameos from him.

"His form is back, his energy levels are back up, and the goal he got last Sunday - single-handidly, he'd dragged Clare back into that match, so that’s a big positive for Donal (Moloney) and Gerry (O'Connor) to have him back on form."

O'Connor went to emphasise the importance attached with the game this Sunday, and said that the performance will form a major part of their championship preparations.

"If they lose on Sunday, it does put you on the back foot, and it does arguably put you under more pressure going into the championship. As it is, that is a massive game with Limerick on June 4 because our record in Munster has been deplorable.

"Deep down, I think Gerry and Donal are on the record as saying that the Munster League was one phase, the league is the second, but ultimately it’s the championship that they’re going to be judged on. And that is the day they’ve got to be ready for."