Under-21s aiming to complete a Munster treble for Cork
After senior and minor success, Rebels face a difficult assignment against Limerick
Patrick Collins: “Limerick have been very impressive in their first two games. We’re looking forward to it but we know it’s going to be a huge task.” Photograph: Inpho
What ails Cork hurling again? For a county not long ago lamenting the lack of success and apparent underage crisis they are now on the cusp of a Munster treble, this evening’s U-21 showdown against Limerick that last unclaimed prize.
The county’s Munster senior title win over Clare ended just a three-year wait, while Cork’s Munster minor title that same day was their first since 2008.
For the U-21’s the chance now is the end the longest wait of all, Cork last winning this title in 2007 – when they beat Waterford.
Limerick do have home advantage in the Gaelic Grounds, and won this title as recently as 2015, although Cork come loaded with some considerable senior experience, including goalkeeper Patrick Collins, actually playing his fifth straight campaign at the U-21 grade, and also number two senior goalkeeper to Anthony Nash.
“In fairness to Anthony, he has been excellent all summer,” says Collins, knowing that someday his patience will likely see him inherit the number one jersey at senior level.
“Definitely, I try to challenge him and improve him as much as I can, try and push him. He has been playing so well, hopefully that’s reflecting the hard work that he’s putting in at training. He’s on top of his game at the moment.”
In the meantime a Munster under-21 title is plenty motivation, although having just edged past Waterford in the semi-final with a late Declan Dalton penalty, they can’t rely on luck.
“Things looked as if they were slipping away towards the end, but luckily we got a penalty and in fairness to Deccie he struck it well.
“We came away lucky in a way, and we know about the size of the challenge facing us on Wednesday, we’re not going to deny that. Limerick have been very impressive in their first two games. We’re looking forward to it but we know it’s going to be a huge task.”
Goalkeeping runs deep in the Collins family, his father Pat having been a goalkeeper with Ballinhassig, and older brother Matthew featuring for Cork at minor, U-21 and intermediate for Cork, while younger brother Ger is the current minor goalkeeper.
“I used to always play outfield, then I started playing in goal for the age-group ahead of me as they were stuck for a keeper, my father was a selector with them. I was thrown into goal with them probably at under-14, when I was under-12. I loved it from the very start.”