JOHN Collins’ legend has been enhanced even further after his man-of-the-match performance for Randal Óg in their Carbery junior B hurling final win.
The 47-year-old was Randal Óg’s hero as they beat Kilbrittain by a single point, and the good news is that he hinted he might stick around for another season or two.
Once named as the player of the tournament in the Fitzgibbon Cup, Collins has stayed with his native club all his career, always the go-to figure on the hurling team, in particular. While he will admit his legs aren’t what they were, it was in the closing stages of the Carbery final that Collins was at his very best as Kilbrittain applied fierce pressure on the Randals’ defence.
Time and again it was the grey-haired winger who came thundering out with the sliotar to clear his lines and lift the whole team.
At the end, when regular captain Shane Patterson was, unfortunately, unable to accept the trophy because he was red-carded during the game, it was decided by the Randals’ camp that Collins was the man to go and do the job. Always a man of action rather than a man of words, Collins did a fine job in his unexpected task and his closing words were – ‘Have I forgotten anyone?’ The answer was a resounding cheer. No surprise either the Star named him as our man of the match.
‘I certainly didn’t welcome that pressure at the end,’ admitted the Randal idol, ‘especially when your legs are going under you.
‘The young lads around me were mighty tonight, they do all the running and hard work. I just hit the ball when it comes to me. The lads up there in the full-forward line, Eoin, Donncha and Cathal were mighty. They always say that goals win games and we got the goals today.’
Loyalty to, and love of, his native Randal Óg means Collins has no serious ides of retiring just yet.
‘Randals have had good years and bad, down and up, and wins like this don’t come around that often. You’d just have to enjoy days like this,’ said Collins, who reckons he has been hurling with his club for 38 years.
‘Numbers are always a struggle for a small club but we have a good group coming through right now, some very good young hurlers. If they stay together, stay injury free, there could be good days just ahead. The future looks a bit brighter now after this win and with these young lads on board.
‘I suppose it would be difficult to pack it up now on the verge of something good but this season might be the end of the road. The legs will be the first to tell us when to pack it up.’
Collins knows well that a small club like Randals depends on many people for survival and he singled out the supporters for special mention.
‘Credit to the supporters in Ballinacarriga. They have endured some terrible days with us, some horrible games when we’ve been absolutely brutal but they never give out to us. They’re always encouraging us no matter what and we do our very best for them. Today is their day as much as the players. It’s a way of life for us all.’
Collins has well-earned the status of legend not only in his native Ballinacarriga but in the whole Carbery division.
Hopefully, we haven’t seen the end of this great warrior on the Gaelic pitches of West Cork just yet.