Collins braced for the threat of Ballyea – and a rampant Kelly

Cratloe bidding to reclaim the Clare senior hurling title they last won four years ago

Podge Collins's busy dual life has simplified this weekend. Cratloe footballers lost the recent semi-final to Milltown-Malbay but the club's hurlers are in action this weekend in Sunday's hurling final at Cusack Park (3.30).

It's a title they won four years ago but opponents Ballyea went all the way to the All-Ireland final two seasons ago and their top gun, 2013 Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly, is in good form.

When the sides met earlier in the Clare championship, it was Kelly’s 1-11 from play – plus a number of fouls on him for converted frees – that was the decisive contribution to a high-scoring contest, remembered only too well by Collins.

“We won our first round so we got through to play Ballyea and they beat us. We got one chance and got to the final but yeah, I marked Tony for a couple of minutes. I think he got 1-11 – I was on him for three of them. The first three points and we were like ‘ah Podge . . . come over!’”

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Their careers have run largely in parallel, as Collins recalls.

“Listen, I actually remember giving an interview when I was minor and this lad was under-17, and I was like ‘what this lad can do in training, people haven’t seen before’. It was what people were doing on a hurling field at senior. He’s always been a special talent.

“He’s focused, hard-working and he’s always been the same way in work and school and the same on the hurling field. What he does off it is why he is so good, and he’s really showing it on the field this year.

“He’ll need watching on Sunday but, if you go through their team, nearly all of them have played inter-county in either hurling or football. They are all able to win their own ball. They are very hard-working, very fit and very competitive so they’ll be a tough ask.”