Castlehaven are keen to make their Mark again, insists captain Collins

October 6th, 2018 6:00 PM

By Denis Hurley

Castlehaven's Mark Collins shows off his ball control during the Cork SFC round three win against CIT at Cloughduv.

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AS Castlehaven captain Mark Collins puts it, the floodlights being on for training in October are always a welcome sight.

Having reached four finals in five years from 2011-15, winning in 2012 and 2013 against Duhallow and Nemo Rangers respectively and losing the 2015 decider to Nemo after a replay, the conventional wisdom around the county might have been that this current iteration of the Haven had peaked.

A heavy defeat to Ballincollig in 2016 was followed by a quarter-final loss to Carbery Rangers last year, but Collins makes the point that the Castletownshend/Union Hall club were quietly regenerating.

‘Obviously, between 2011 and 2015, we were very successful,’ he says.

‘We lost some of the senior players from that team, Liam Collins and Dermot Hurley retired and they were hard to replace, they were very big players for us.

‘The league results the last few years haven’t been great in Division 2, but we were there was savage potential there among the younger lads.

‘I’m not saying that they’re there yet, it takes time to fully bed in, but there had been some underage success and Cathal Maguire and Ronan Walsh were both Cork minors in the last few years and Andrew Whelton was one this year.’

They will face a big test on Sunday against Duhallow. The widespread expectation is of a close game, just like the 2012 final against the north-western division.

‘We were haunted to get out that day,’ Collins says.

‘I remember looking at the scoreboard with about 15 minutes left and we were a couple of points behind and Chris Hayes had been sent off.

‘We got a bit lucky definitely, I’d be good friends with Aidan Walsh and Donncha O’Connor from Cork and they’d definitely see that as one that got away.

‘They’ll be up for revenge on Sunday so we have to be ready for that.’

Guiding the group is Collins’s first cousin Liam, one of the key parts of the back-to-back wins.

‘Liam isn’t a man of a lot of words,’ Mark says, ‘he did his talking on the pitch and he’s incredibly well respected.

‘When it was announced that he’d be taking over, I remember thinking that having so much respect from the players gave a manager a great chance.

‘He has captained the Haven to a county [2003] and the younger fellas on the team would have looked up to him as a god when he was playing.’

Assisting Liam Collins are Fergus Shanahan, Batt Maguire and Bernard Collins – all good Haven men – while they have also benefited from outside influence in the form of coaching sessions with Kerry native Jerome Stack, who has previous been involved with the county teams of Tipperary, Limerick and Laois.

‘He has been excellent,’ Mark Collins says.

‘It was a great decision by the management to get him on board, he was with Adare last year when they won the Limerick title for the first time.

‘When someone new comes in, everybody has step it up to prove themselves and it was definitely stood to us having Jerome in.’

And, while it was little more than a friendly, Collins also believes that the clash with Erin’s Isle, as part of AIB’s ‘Toughest Trade’ series, has also proven to be beneficial.

‘Obviously, we knew it wasn’t going to be the be-all and the end-all,’ he says.

‘At the same time, we treated it like a championship game and prepared the same way we would have.

‘A couple of the lads mightn’t have been involved in big championship games before that so an occasion like that helped them get used to the environment and hopefully was a benefit against CIT and Nemo.’

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