A gifted hurler and footballer, Sam began his playing career not with Douglas, as there was no under age in the club in the early 1950s, but with St. Finbarrs at under 14 and 15. However, he quickly returned to his beloved Douglas the following year and was a member of the under 16 team which won the city championship.Sam was a pivotal member of the 1962 team that won the club's first ever Junior football championship. He was an accomplished hurler also and played a key role in the club winning the city junior championship for the first time in 1966.
The club won an under 15 championship in 1957 and an under 16 championship the following year with Sam the coach and trainer. At least eight of that group of players went on to play with him on the junior team that won the county championship in 1962.
Incredibly when the club won an under 15 championship in the year 2000, 43 years after his initial success as a coach, Sam was involved with the team, imparting his knowledge to the players like only he could.Sam’s training methods were legendary. For those of you who don’t know, the South link road is built on a bog, and it was up there he coached many teams, jumping over fallen trees, and running up the steeps hills that surround Vernon Mount. Never was a Douglas side, coached by Sam sent out to any game unprepared.
Nothing gave Sam more pleasure than to see young players who he had coached and trained, go on to play with the county in the various grades. He took great personal satisfaction in that, and of course the club achieving senior status in hurling and football gave him a particular thrill. Even today, Sam's influence can be seen directly in our senior teams. Sam's nephew Brian Boyle has been mainstay between the posts for the senor football team and put in a superb performance in the 2009 Intermediate county hurling final to help the club regain their senior status. Current senior players, Mark Harrington, James Moylan, Mark O'Callaghan and indeed myself were all privileged to have Sam involved in our underage teams.
A personal story, I remember about Sam, was him taking me aside one day in training. I was playing midfield at the time for our hurlers and Sam felt it was important I be able to take sideline cuts to provide a launch pad for attack. At the time, I could hit sideline cuts about the height of a two year olds knee. Sam spent a full 45 minutes with me, teaching me the correct technique. He showed incredible patience, wisdom and communication skills to get me to a point where my cuts were being launched up in to the air and travelling a fair distance. The end result was seen in a game against our closest rivals at the time, the Glen. We won a tight battle with them and I must have hit 8-10 sidelines perfectly that resulted in scores for the team. Its a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but I still remember the match report in the Douglas Weekly at the time, praising me for my sidelines. Its difficult for me to express how much that meant to me as a 14 year old kid at the time, but the fact I can still remember it so clearly now, will give you some insight in to how important Sam was to me. Sam had a way of making every player feel important, he had a way of getting the best out of everyone he was involved with.Liam “Sam” Collins left a legacy behind that cannot be replaced. He graced our club, which he loved with a passion, with incredible loyalty. He instilled a love for the game and for the club in so many people down through the years.
In the History of Douglas GAA “Sam Collins” is legend and will never be forgotten he left an indelible mark on all those people he came in contact with, and in the years to come whenever the exploits of our club are spoken of, his name will readily spring to mind.
Every year on St. Stephens Day the club continues with the traditional “Long Puck” competition in honour and memory of “Sam” which is growing number every year! Teams of three compete in the Long Puck trying to win the Sam Collins trophy, fittingly the competition has been won in the past by Sam's nephew Brian.
Ladies football games this weekend. Friday Under 16 v Bride Rovers county semi final replay in Nemo at 7.45pm. Sunday under 11 v Naomh Abhann in Under 12 B2 Mid-Cork Final replay @ 11am Venue to be confirmed. Sunday at 3pm in Douglas Minors v Aragleen Desmond's Bui in county 1/4 final.
Best of luck to all teams