*Colm Collins. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

COLM COLLINS has admitted facing off with his native Kilmihil was among the more difficult experiences he has had as a manager.

Now the longest serving inter-county football manager, Colm is also in charge of the Cratloe senior footballers, guiding them to their first ever Clare SFC title in 2013. Under his watch, the county seniors have reached two All-Ireland quarter-finals along with progressing from Division 4 of the Allianz National Football League to the second tier.

In 1980, he was corner forward on the Kilmihil team which ended a 36 year wait for glory, kicking 0-02 in their win over Doonbeg.

Plotting the downfall of his beloved Kilmihil was no easy task in what was his first time coming up against the club at senior championship. “It wasn’t a pleasant experience, it’s something I’d rather not repeat but that’s the way it is”.

Trailing by a point at half-time, Cratloe were far from happy with their showing. “They really put it up to us, at half-time we were in big trouble, I thought they outplayed us, we were in a bad spot, we needed to up it and thankfully we did, the goal was very important and we needed to get that I felt. It’s good to be in the quarter-final but a lot to work on if we’re talking about going any further”.

Kicking ten wides over the hour is an area that needs improvement but Collins was also frustrated by the amount of times they dropped shots short and conceded turnovers. “If you have four shots dropping short it wasn’t the kind of display you were looking for, at least if you shoot and make sure they have to kick the ball out. I wouldn’t be as bad on wides as I would be on dropped shots and turnovers, we kicked away some awful some stupid ball in the first half, we had 15 turnovers which is not going to get you anywhere, we have to up it big time and hopefully the quality is there to up it”.

Gerry Downes. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

His Kilmihil counterpart, Gerry Downes was frustrated to fall to a successive loss, even though their display was an improved one. “Same old story again, we put ourselves in a way better position at half-time this time around to take the game on but you have to hand it to Cratloe, they are a class outfit, these guys are on the road a long number of years, they know how to win games and how to close out games, you can’t buy that experience and that talent, they were by far the better team in the second half and hats off to them, they deserved their victory”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Downes felt that the extra fitness of their opponents made the difference. “We seemed to run out of legs. We have four or five lads there on the wrong side of thirty. We got off to a great start in the second half with a great score from Ciaran Downes but they just seemed to overrun us, we’ll have to look at the video to pinpoint exactly where it went wrong, it just didn’t happen in the second half”.

On top of the absent Dan Keating, David Lernihan and Stan Lineen, Kilmihil were dealt a blow at half-time when goal scorer Gearoid O’Grady was forced off with injury. Though he acknowledged it was a loss, Gerry didn’t believe O’Grady’s half-time departure had a psychological effect on the players. “We brought on a couple of subs, you have to be able to deal with these things, we’ve lost lads to injury and we’ve ploughed on, I don’t think it was a factor in the game to be honest with you, he was playing well in the first half but I wouldn’t think it was a huge factor, it seemed to be fitness”.

“I heard them talking last weekend about Daithi O’Connell in Wolfe Tones and Michael O’Dwyer in Kilmurry Ibrickane but we have three or four guys like Shane Egan, Niall Reidy and Alan Normoyle, they are great guys who have given huge service to the club, they’re well into their thirties and only for them we’d be in big trouble, they are great lads and they are invaluable to us,” he added.

There is still a chance for Kilmihil to qualify for the knockout stages, they must defeat St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in the final round to advance to a play/off where the winner will secure a quarter-final berth. “We had hoped we’d get over the line today but at the end of the day it was probably going to come down to a winner takes all game against Doora/Barefield. We’ve to keep working with what we have and hopefully the tide will turn a bit”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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