Clare football boss, Colm Collins expects their recent Allianz National Football League encounters will have the Banner primed for Sunday’s Munster championship quarter-final with Tipperary.
Fresh from maintaining their Division 2 status following a win over Fermanagh and defeat to Armagh, Clare begin their provincial bid on Sunday travelling to Semple Stadium. “I’d much prefer to have games of this quality preparing for championship, we’re delighted with that and going into Sunday as well prepared as we are”.
Colm Collins is behind Brian Cody and Mickey Harte as the third longest-serving inter-county manager in the GAA at present but Sunday will mark the first instance that he comes up against Tipperary in the Munster SFC.
“We’ve always had very tight games with Tipperary and we expect nothing different this time,” the Kilmihil native said of what he expects from the men from the Premier County.
He is of the view that Clare are entering the Munster championship in a solid place with Gary Brennan, Jamie Malone and Podge Collins all returning to the panel while Aaron Fitzgerald has recovered from injury.
There is a psychological lift with the returnees plus the boost of maintaining their place in Division 2. “It was very important with the change in regulations that we retained our status and thankfully we did, we’re there on merit, there is no hiding place in Division 2 and thankfully we’re up there”.
Focus is primarily on Tipperary but reflecting on their League campaign, Colm indicated where the Banner need to improve if they have desires of playing Division 1 football. “I think that the two one point losses that we had against Laois and Westmeath were the key here, we didn’t perform in both games and we ended up losing whereas a point either way would have put us in a better position. To close out the games is the thing.
“Division 2 is very competitive, there is very little between all the teams in it and it’s a fantastic division, coming down to the last day and playing the last match and you could be promoted or relegated where else would you get it, we’re delighted to still be in Division 2, even though we lost the game it’s been good preparation for next Sunday which is all we’re thinking about”.
Collins has been around the block so far as inter-county management is concerned but having managed to avoid Kerry on their side of the draw, the possibilities of reaching a Munster Final are greater. Throw in the fact that this is knockout football and the stakes become much higher for the Banner County.