David Collins convinced Galway ready to take their challenge to new heights
Experienced defender expects Tribesmen to match Kilkenny’s famous workrate
Galway’s David Collins: “The intensity and workrate required to beat Kilkenny is going to be twice what we brought to Tipperary.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Ten years on from his most gilded summer, campaigns that culminated in the Young Hurler of the Year award, All-Ireland under-21 success and a breathtaking victory over Kilkenny in the senior semi-final before getting close – but not sufficiently – to Cork in the final, David Collins knows the signs of how a Galway season, never mind a match, is going.
In the epic semi-final win over Tipperary, he homes in on one of Cathal Mannion’s five points.
“Personally, when I was watching the game and I saw Johnny Glynn hooking Maher and Mannion picking the ball up and putting it over the bar I said ‘right, this is it; this is our game’. We’re on that curve.
“Why I say this is because of the workrate, the intensity that the boys kept bringing to it. Three points down, four points down, we kept coming back with scores. That attitude there, it is fantastic so we need to keep that going now. We’ve kept it going in the last few days. We just need to drive it on higher now.
This season has been a particular challenge for Collins because he has had to start on the bench for much of it after injury-enforced absence earlier in the year.
His attention to the detail of team dynamics is however impressive and he explains the importance of being positive.
“Personally it’s a help to me because if I wasn’t, I’d be sitting down and out – a) annoyed at not playing and b) the team is bigger than me and if I have that attitude then it kind of seeps into the attitude of the other players. That’s the whole aim of it, to bring that unity because the depth of the squad is massive.”
“We broke it down, stats wise, in terms of what tackles are being made, who’s making them – who is making the biggest impact tackles. When you have that data, you say, ‘right, we can get to a tackle rate of around 45 to 50 on any given day’. You need to be up there all the time. If you’re not making the targets then you are pulled out and told, ‘this is where you have to go’.
“It’s the players that are driving it; it’s players that are pulling the other players aside and asking ‘where is this going; what are you doing; why aren’t you doing this?’ It’s not coming from management which is great. It’s a real team bond.
“Many a time in Galway it’s always being blamed on management, ‘the manager is this, the manager is that’. Take out the common denominator of manager and where have we won anything anyway. The players have to drive it on. It’s key.”
Unlike in 2012, this year Galway lost the Leinster final against Kilkenny. Collins sees the positive in that even though the match in July was something of a reality check.
“I think, in hindsight, it was a great thing to lose it because we now reassessed what we had to do. We know what Kilkenny’s strong points are. Their workrate was fantastic that day but if you look back it was our mistakes that cost us that game in terms of turnovers, drops, shots, everything.
“I think we had a 45 per cent accuracy rate where we shot 29 times and scored 14. That’s the stuff you need to get down to.”
He is amused at the irony of Hurler of the Year Richie Hogan’s recent observation that he hated the championship structure because it provided so few matches for Kilkenny.
“We’re striving for one All-Ireland and once we get that I’d have a shot at that title (championship reform). We’re concentrating on one thing and that’s getting the MacCarthy Cup across the Shannon.”