The moment that proves Podge Collins has the confidence back in his legs again
Hurling needs Podge Collins.
In 2013, the Cratloe schemer took the League and the championship by storm. With his searing pace and his explosive step, the Banner bullet had defences scrambling every single occasion he got on the ball.
He was the conductor in chief of Davy Fitzgerald's Clare outfit and he pulled all the right strings on the way to their first Liam MacCarthy since 1997.
An All-Star capped his year of years and with Collins and Clare going on to win the All-Ireland under-21 a week later, the world was at his and their feet.
Collins' point in the drawn final was something special, but it was a reflection of the type of magic he was conjuring all year in the saffron and blue.
In the years that followed, Clare's struggles coincided with an injury and a loss of form to their key man. 2014 was a write off for them and in 2015, their talismanic forward suffered the injury that every sports star dreads, tearing his cruciate ligament in May.
He made his return in 2016, but as a dual star. Twice in that year, Collins played two inter-county championship games in the one weekend.
Unsurprisingly, his form suffered and in 2017 he called time on the dual dream, becoming the last great dual player. Sadly in 2017, he never hit full throttle and the explosiveness of 2013 just wasn't there. And with their artful dodger not hitting the heights, Clare flattered to deceive.
Sunday's victory over Tipperary was massive for the county. It was their first meaningful championship triumph in almost four years. Yes they did overcome Waterford a couple of weeks earlier but this was a depleted Déise outfit minus Gleeson, Mahony, De Búrca and more.
On Sunday, Clare finally pulled the fat out of the fire when it mattered the most. Podge Collins was the man who turned that game for them.
The little maestro scored three points, but he also set up a goal and another three points for his teammates. His pace and balance looked back to 2013 levels, and this moment showed exactly that.
Collins was zippy and he had the confidence in his legs to throw dummies like this one late on. When a player tears their cruciate, the worry is always there that the leg isn't as strong or as reliable as it once was and often wary on it and a little restrained.
He's restrained no more.
It was those mesmeric feet that set him apart in his earlier days and now he looks fully fit again. For Clare, that's an exciting sight and the lads on The GAA Hour Show feel he has to get the start next time out.
"He had a brilliant game when he game on. He was buzzing around the place as well," said JJ Delaney on Monday's Show.
Michael Carton has marked Collins in the past and he feels a roaming role is best suited to the Clare man.
"I've played against Podge and when he's in the corner, he's much easier to mark, he doesn't get on ball and it's easier to mark him. You have to tell Podge, 'you have the run of the forward line, you do what you want.' He's brilliant at finding space, he's a really good hurling brain on him, he gets space and he uses players around him as well."
Wooly feels they have to start him.
"After those two years out, he hasn't been playing well. He's had chances and he hasn't taken them, but this could give him the spark and he makes Clare tick."
You can listen to the Podge love in and much more from Monday's GAA Hour Show here.
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