Podge Collins believes Option B offers the freedom the likes of Clare crave

‘I genuinely think it’s the best proposal and that is why it’s getting so much support’

Podge Collins has a number of perspectives on the reform of the football championship. An ardent proponent of Option B, the league-based format, which guarantees more matches and liberates teams from the straitjacket of provincial championship, he made one weary reference to his county's recent experience in Munster.

“Every time Clare and Kerry go into the hat they seem to be drawn together.”

In the eight years that his father Colm Collins has managed Clare, they have played Kerry seven times in the championship without success.

It’s not, he explains, that the teams curl up and die when drawn against their daunting neighbours but it’s repetitive and soul destroying.

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“Genuinely, as a player if the status quo stays and we draw Kerry again then I’ll have the exact same mindset, ‘right, I need to get myself as right as I can’.

“For someone on the outside or even people within our own county maybe, they mightn’t have that opinion – they might think ‘oh no, Kerry again’. But that’s not the way you think as a player.”

At the same time, “you are playing a competition where it would be over in one game, it’s cutthroat.”

As one of what may well be the last dual intercounty players, he has an All-Ireland hurling medal from 2013 and in recent years, the experience of playing a league-based championship structure in the round-robin Munster championship.

“I think it’s gathering so much momentum from a players’ point of view because it is just so much better than the status quo. I don’t think it’s a popular opinion just to support this, I genuinely think it’s the best proposal and that is why it’s getting so much support.

“I do feel players will be more intrigued to play in this format where you have seven competitive championship games at the height of summer. As a player you are just licking your lips at that thought.

“The league for a lot of teams – unfortunately for 25 or 26 teams – it’s their championship. It’s their most important thing because as soon as that ends the likelihood of winning Sam is just not there.”

The proposal brings together the format of the national league with the All-Ireland played out amongst the last 10 teams, based on final league placings, spread across the divisions – five from the first, three from the second and the top teams in the third and fourth – so that every county can aspire to qualifying.

Collins has a further perspective. His Clare team-mate Eoin Cleary has been nominated for an All Star – only the second Clare footballer in 24 years, after Gary Brennan in 2016.

The fairness of every county getting a minimum of seven matches doesn’t simply relate to the teams and their prospects but better players, like Cleary, are immensely handicapped under the status quo because if their county is eliminated early they have no chance to impress over a number of matches.

“He’s just an excellent player and it’s just a pity that this year we only got to see him once in the championship. People were able to look at him in the national league and some of the performances he put in were exceptional.

“His performance up in Kildare was just out of this world, some of the points he was kicking but Eoin is a man like that. It wouldn’t surprise you when you are training with him and you see some of the goals he gets and the points he gets, the work he puts in.

“From playing with him, you nearly expect it but it was great to see the year he had. He really was fantastic but only one championship game. As a Clare fan you don’t get to see him again in championship, which is disappointing.”

Like the hurling round-robins in the provinces have proved, regular matches in good weather are popular with all of the game’s stakeholders.

“Yeah, plenty of exposure and at the right time of the year, you are playing during the summer when the ground is hardening up and the evenings are longer and people want to watch games.”