BY KIERAN McCARTHY
MARK Collins was only four years old at the time so it’s understandable that his recollections of the 1994 county finals are sketchy and few – but two memories jump out.
He was the baby-faced Castlehaven mascot that – along with O’Donovan Rossa mascot and future Cork team-mate Colm O’Driscoll – adorned the front page photo on The Southern Star edition of September 24th, 1994, dressed head to toe in club gear that was far too big for him. There was a reason for this, he laughs, pointing the finger of blame directly towards his father, then Castlehaven footballer Francis.
‘You can see in the picture that the gear is way too big for me, but that’s because I’m wearing my father’s jersey, shorts and socks!’ current Cork footballer Mark explains.
‘He forgot to pack my gear for the photo. When I landed to take the photo I had no gear so I had to wear his.
‘My mother brought me along to take the photo and when we arrived, there was Colm O’Driscoll pristine in all the proper gear and she said she was throwing me out there, an embarrassment, with the gear way too big!
‘I’m sure she killed my father after that!’
On closer examination of that photo, Mark’s shorts and socks almost swallow him up while beside him, Colm, son of Gene O’Driscoll who was on the O’Donovan Rossa team, looks like he has strutted straight in off the catwalk with clothes that fit. Colm was six years old, a couple of inches taller than Mark and was dressed to impress when they all congregated in the garden at Ger ‘Blondie’ O’Brien’s house out the Tragumna Road.
Who would have known at the time that Mark and Colm would go on to line out together at senior inter-county level for Cork?
When the 1994 county final came about, Mark was back in his own gear, not his father’s, but the four-year-old Haven football nut got so wrapped up in the drawn final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, he ended up getting sick afterwards.
‘I remember after the first game, with the excitement and everything, I got sick. I was down on the pitch for the drawn final but I was thrown back up into the stand with my mother for the replay,’ he recalls.
It would all end well for Mark and Castlehaven in the end, and he’ll be delighted this week to see that old photo, 25 years on, shown again in all its glory.