BY DENIS HURLEY
IT HAS been a busy time for Patrick Collins.
On Wednesday night last, he played his last Munster U21 hurling championship game, the end of a stint stretching to back 2013, when Ger Fitzgerald called him up as a 17-year-old.
While the path to the Cork senior number 1 jersey is blocked for the moment by Anthony Nash, Ballinhassig clubman Collins is keen to gain as much experience as he can.Â
To that end, he has featured with Cork intermediates too this summer, lining out in Sunday's All-Ireland final loss to Kilkenny, as well as his club in the premier intermediate hurling championship and CIT in the senior championship.
âIt's the game-time that you want, especially as a keeper,' he says.
âI try to get involved with every team that I can, the more games, the more experience and the more you learn.
âI 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.
âI was thrown into goal with them probably at U14, when I was U12. I loved it from the very start.
âAt the start of the year, I sat down and thought about where I wanted to play for Ballinhassig.
âI was always full-forward and corner-forward but I decided that it was my time to play in goal if I could at all. I just felt that I needed to get more experience of playing in goal at that level.'
While Nash's consistent displays mean that there is little or no chance of dislodging him at the moment, Collins is keen to keep the pressure on the Kanturk man, knowing that it can only be good for Cork.
âIn fairness to Anthony, he has been excellent all summer,' he says.
âDefinitely, 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 in training.
âHe's on top of his game at the moment.'
At home, there's no shortage of goalkeepers, either. Patrick's father Pat and older brother Matthew were number 1s, while younger brother Patrick was on the Cork side which won the Munster minor title three weeks ago.
âWe've a strong household of keepers,' he says.Â
âMy father played for Ballinhassig, then my older brother Matthew played minor, U21 and intermediate for Cork and Ger is the current minor goalkeeper.
âMy other brother Michael lost out a small bit, he only played in goal once or twice, he didn't like it at all!'
Ger is currently Patrick's back-up for Ballinhassig and his older brother is happy to impart any advice to him.
âI'd help him in any way I can,' he says.
âHe's a very grounded fella, he doesn't really ask me for too much advice, in fairness to him!
âThe main thing as a keeper is that you learn from experience and mistakes. Whatever happens happens, you accept it and you move on.'