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Ballinhassig's Collins is Rebel's Hero

(JJ Hurley)

Ballinhassig and Cork net minder, Patrick Collins, covered himself in glory on the historic turf of Croke Park on Sunday as the Rebels booked a place in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final on July 21st.



Facing one of the greatest hurling sides of all time, Limerick, all the pundits agreed during the week that Cork would have to hurl from one to fifteen for 70 minutes, if the Rebels were to dethrone the champions.



Collins, who has in previous seasons come in for criticism for his puck outs, capped off an outstanding championship season to date, with a stellar performance at headquarters on Sunday.



Indeed, coming into this year's league campaign there were calls for Cork to find a replacement for the Carrigdhoun man, with Midleton's Brian Saunderson seen as the natural replacement.


However, the Cork boss, Pat Ryan, kept faith with Collins, who has rewarded the Cork supremo with some fine performances this year, including keeping a clean sheet at Croke Pairc .



Collins showed all his bravery on 23 minutes as Aaron Gillane looked like scoring a certain goal only for Collins to race off his line and stop the goal-bound shot with his body.



Rté's co commentator on the game, Michael Duignan, reminded viewers that the Limerick mark's man's shot was travelling at over 100 miles per hour and Collins would certainly feel the effects later, as Collins ignored the obvious danger to keep his side in the match.


“That’s an unbelievable act of bravery, an unbelievable save.  He threw his whole body and blocked the second one with his body too.  That is inspirational,” Duignan said.



Outside of Collins commanding ‘his house’ over the hour as he marshalled the watertight defence in front of him, Collins's ability to find Cork players with his long puck outs, particularly Hayes and Harnedy was a huge factor in Cork's success .



In addition, his ability to vary his puckouts, switching to the short version, meant that Limerick had often to change their plans as the champions tried to chase the Rebels down.


Only one of those puckouts went astray and led to a Limerick point in the second half, Cork fans had long forgiven the Ballinhassig man, who produced another outstanding save in the second period of the game to deny Gearoid Hegarty.



Previous question marks about Collins getting caught in possession have seemed to evaporated as he has demonstrated in the current season, taking less time with the ball in hand, when he has to clear his lines.


Collins will now look forward to the All-Ireland Final on July 21st, where the Ballinhassig man will hope to emulate Martin Coleman (Snr) another ‘Blues’ man who picked up three Celtic Crosses between the sticks for the Rebels.




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