Collins believes outsiders Liam Mellows can rattle title holders

Liam Mellows’ David Collins and Cuala’s Darragh O’Connell pictured at a pre-match media event ahead of Saturday's All-Ireland Club semi-final in Thurles. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.
Liam Mellows’ David Collins and Cuala’s Darragh O’Connell pictured at a pre-match media event ahead of Saturday's All-Ireland Club semi-final in Thurles. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.

LIAM Mellows’ swashbuckling display against Gort will live long in the memory of many but joint captain David Collins maintains that, as good as that performance was, it still will not be good enough to account for All-Ireland club champions Cuala in Thurles on Saturday.

When it comes to the big days – be it the county final with Liam Mellows or All-Ireland deciders with the Tribesmen – former Galway captain Collins has seen it all. He knows the levels of performances out there – what is good enough and what is not.

Consequently, Saturday’s contest is like no other – even by Galway club standards. For it is one thing to be facing into your first All-Ireland club semi-final; it’s all together another to be doing so against the reigning All-Ireland holders. It’s not one level – it’s two!

“Yeah, and if we go there planning to do the same as what we did against Gort we are going to get beaten I think,” agrees Collins. “Cuala are a seasoned team and a very strong physical team. They have been conditioned over the last number of years and with Mattie Kenny over them! He is another version of Louis (Mulqueen) I think.”

Collins is wholly familiar with Galway coach Kenny having soldiered under the Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry native at U-21, winning an All-Ireland in 2005, and at senior level during Anthony Cunningham’s time. No wonder then, Collins is full of praise for the Cuala manager.

“The dedication and the commitment he has is second to none and the players are reciprocating that. His intensity in training! I swear to God! I only have seen anything like it with Louis. At inter-county level, Mattie was fantastic like that. There was never a dull moment. You were never standing still. He has a game-plan, a structure there and it is definitely working for them.

“So, I think it is going to be a serious, serious challenge but the ball is in our court really. There is no pressure on us. No more than the county final, we are going out underdogs and we will see how it goes. Work-rate is going to be key. If we keep working and break down their game-plan, we have a chance. Otherwise, we are in serious trouble.”

Along with Kenny, Collins would also have a good handle on the Dublin inter-county players in the Cuala squad have faced them on countless occasions over his Galway career. Again, he is under no illusions as to what to expect.

“If you were to take the Dublin jersey off them, and put on the club jersey, you are going to get more heart, more fight, more everything. I have marked (Mark) Schutte a couple of times and (David) Treacy. They are serious.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.