Collins: 'Absolutely amazing, it is a dream come true'

“I was down here as a kid in the parade in 1994, Castlehaven won the county. I used to go home and pretend to lift the cup. To see that come through is absolutely incredible. The feeling is second to none, I am so happy".
Collins: 'Absolutely amazing, it is a dream come true'

DREAM COME TRUE: Castlehaven captain Mark Collins raises the Andy Scannell trophy after defeating Nemo Ranger's in the Bon Secours Premier SFC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

Mark Collins has the distinction of captaining Castlehaven, and the inspirational skipper collected his third Cork senior football medal. Along with a few others, he toiled valiantly when times were tough. He finally got his deserved reward.

“Absolutely amazing, it is a dream come true,” he said.

“I was down here as a kid in the parade in 1994, Castlehaven won the county. I used to go home and pretend to lift the cup. To see that come through is absolutely incredible. The feeling is second to none, I am so happy.

“This is a sweet, sweet victory. If you look at the teams we played, a lot of top teams - Carbery Rangers, Valley Rovers and Clonakilty. Ballincollig and the Barrs, and then Nemo. We have proven ourselves.

“We’ve been knocking on the door for the last four or five years. We really will enjoy this one. We have a great bunch of lads, a lot of young fellas, but a lot of older guys who have been around for 10 or 11 years as well.

“Watching the rugby last night, finals aren’t easily won. They are tight and tense, and mistakes are made. There was never going to be much in it. We knew if we were in the thick of it coming down the track, we would have the leaders to get us over the line.

“We had a lot of work done on Nemo. We knew they would be well set up at the back, and when they would turn us over, they would move it quickly. We were a small bit afraid of the counter-attack and their kicking game, so we set out to try and stop that. Both teams probably nullified each other for long parts. In the last 10 or 15 minutes, we got the scores.

“Football is a religion in Castlehaven, everyone lives and breathes football. It is the first thing they talk about in the morning, and the last thing they talk about going to sleep. If someone is sick, football makes them happy.

“When James (McCarthy) came back in four years ago, the main thing was to leave the club in a better place.” 

And the manager - who has overseen the return of the Andy Scannell Cup for the first time in 10 years and has been involved with previous Castlehaven victorious teams - was quick to heap praise on his captain.

“We are four years on the road with this group. The youth have come in and helped us. I am so delighted for that group of players, and especially for Mark Collins. We made a bit of a pact. When he gave up Cork, there was nothing in his head, only winning a county.” McCarthy continued.

“Everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel. I am just the head man. We had a few hard defeats, close ones. We thought we were never better prepared this year, not me personally, but the backroom team and the players.

“It came down to the wire. Michael Hurley was our go-to-man today and he was in the semi-final, fair play to him. He kicked some great points, they were premium.” 

Hurley scooped the coveted man-of-the-match award for his stunning five point return.

“Thankfully we were prepared for a bit of a dogfight, and we came out the other end,” the attacker said.

“The award is a small bit of a bonus. But this is for the team, the panel. This is for the fellas who have been grafting for the last 10 years.

“We’ve been mentioned as the big three in Cork, but we have underachieved. We are a small rural community and we are privileged to be mentioned in the big three.

“We’ve come through a lot of hard games. We did it the hard way.

"It has been brewing for the last few years.”

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