Pádraic Collins expects dogfight against Tipp as Clare lay title on the line
Munster U-21 hurling final: hosts seeking revenge after injury-time goal snatched victory for Clare last August
Pádraic Collins: “I’d say they’re gunning for us after last year.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Clare’s senior forward Pádraic Collins is predicting “an absolute dogfight” when the Banner County travel to Thurles for tomorrow evening’s Bord Gáis Energy Munster under-21 hurling final against Tipperary.
The hosts are seeking revenge after Niall Arthur’s injury-time goal snatched victory for Clare in last August’s corresponding fixture at Cusack Park, Ennis.
“Tipp are very strong, I’d say they’re gunning for us after last year,” says Collins. “I’d say it will be absolute dogfight. It’s up in Thurles as well which is an advantage for them.”
But Clare are backboned by a host of senior panellists and in Collins, they possess one of the stars of the 2013 hurling summer.
He was superb against Galway in the All-Ireland SHC quarter-final and he will be one of Clare’s key men when they tackle his native county and neighbours Limerick in the semi-final on Sunday week.
A stunning reverse handpass was one of the highlights from an impressive victory over last year’s beaten finalists Galway as Collins weighed in with four points from play.
His displays against Wexford and Galway have earned Collins high praise and the Cratloe man is hurling on “instinct” as Clare target the big prizes in the under-21 and senior grades.
When reminded of that handpass, Collins said with a smile: “I don’t know what I was thinking, I’ve never done anything like that before It was pure instinct. There are things you’d do messing before training but Jeez, during a match – I only realised a few minutes later I’d done it. I thought I was going to be blown for overcarrying the ball.”
Collins was man of the match in the Munster under-21 semi-final victory over Waterford and he picked off two points from play in last year’s memorable provincial decider.
For the fourth time in six years, Clare face Tipp in the under-21 decider and the visitors to Semple Stadium are chasing back-to-back Munster titles in this grade for the first time.
“We’ve played each other a lot, we’d know each other well, all the players we’re playing against,” says Collins. “It was a good game last year but we were blessed to win it.”
Arthur’s late goal was a crucial strike as Clare claimed a second Munster under-21 title before adding another All-Ireland crown for good measure.
“That was massive, that goal changed our year. That score, in a split second, changed the game and lucky enough we came out the right end of it.”