Douglas GAA Icon of the Week - Liam 'Sam' Collins

  • By Ray Keating
  • 20 Oct, 2017

A man who's legacy cannot be understated

Two legends, side by side
In Douglas, we are very lucky to have so many people with incredible dedication to the club. The huge under age success the club has experienced over the last 20 years has become the norm. The fact we are a dual senior club is an expected status quo. It would be surprising not to see a Douglas player involved with a Cork team now. We have gotten to this point, thanks to phenomenal work from countless individuals when the club wasn't as successful as we are now. We owe so much to so many, none more than Liam 'Sam' Collins. Sam has had such a massive impact on the club, his legacy will live on as long as the club itself. 

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.

Sam was the type of man that was good at everything he did. Not content with brilliance on the GAA pitch, he was also an accomplished basketballer, which you might say was unusual as he didn’t have the height for that sport, but he more than made up for his lack of inches by his marvelous trickery on the court.

Although, an undisputed talent from a playing perspective, it is perhaps, Sam's influence on coaching in Douglas GAA club that has left an even greater mark. Sam was a visionary who had a passion for the skills of the game and had an incredible ability to communicate to his players how to achieve those skills. Today it’s the norm for every team within  to have a bagful of sliothars. This wasn't always the case, and when Sam took charge of the under 15 team in 1957, he looked for a sliothar for every player.  Throughout his coaching career this is something he always believed in. The skills of the game came first. 

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.  


By Ray Keating 18 Jan, 2018
Back in the early 1970s the club had an award scheme called Club Person of the Year for which the plate was presented.
It t was a very expensive plate made of solid silver and had to be  returned at the end of every year for presentation the following year.
A similar miniature replica was also presented which the winner kept.
In time they became too expensive and the scheme was dropped some time in the early 2000s.
Because of the lapse in time we don't know who was the last recipient.
The committee is keen to get the plate back with a view to running the scheme again.
 We need your help in trying to find the last winner.
If you were the last recipient or know who was we  requesting the present holder to return the plate at his/her convenience or contact us at
By Ray Keating 18 Jan, 2018
Underage section AGM will take place on Saturday, January 27, at 3pm in the clubhouse.
By Ray Keating 29 Dec, 2017
Do you know the player receiving the cup in this photo from a junior football tournament in Moneygourney in 2002? This is for an ongoing book project in the club and we would like to identify who it is. 

if you know him, please let us know at
By Ray Keating 17 Dec, 2017
Strictly Dancers are so 'fired up' on the big night they usualy can't eat and by the time its all over they are very hungry. Roosters Piri Piri have come on board to look after the dancers after their performance and make sure they are ready to party into the night, a huge thank you to Mark and all his great team in Roosters (Douglas).
Best wishes for their new opening in Blackpool next week.
By Ray Keating 17 Dec, 2017
The Club Shop will be open tomorrow, Monday, from 8-9 for all that last minute Christmas shopping.
By Ray Keating 14 Dec, 2017
The annual long puck competition takes place St. Stephens morning. It will start at 11:30 at the bottom of Cooney's Lane on the frankfield side. Finish line is outside College Corinthians soccer pitch. Teams of 3 and its €15 per team. 

Prizes and drinks/food back in the club at 4:30p.m. 

All welcome. Its always a great outing. 
By Ray Keating 11 Dec, 2017
Check out our major club sponsors Lehane Motors superb 181 Offers!!
By Ray Keating 08 Dec, 2017

Special. From speaking to those in the club who grew up with Caolan, those that were his friends, his teammates, there is a desire to find a word to sum him up, but there isn’t one word alone that can do him justice. Special is a close as it comes and even that comes nowhere close to summing up Caolan.

This past week marked six years since the passing of Caolan. In his 18 years on this planet, Caolan left behind a legacy that people who live five times as long could only hope to replicate.

From a sporting point of view, it was very apparent early on, that we had got a gem. Following in the footsteps of his brothers Odhran and Eanna, Caolan joined the street leagues and made an immediate impression. His friend Brian Cuthbert, recalls a time representing Sligo in Under 9 hurling, when someone who he didn’t know was dominating the game. It was his first interaction with Caolan and on this particularly hot day, he remembers this guy with an unusual name, getting stuck in and taking control of the game. Not one to hold back, Caolan, did as he always did and gave his everything, resulting in the heat eventually getting the better of him and he crouched down in exhaustion. Water bottles weren’t necessarily the norm for Street leagues at the time, so one of the coaches asked the parents if anyone had a drink.  One of the fathers duly stepped up and after Caolan had taken a few drinks, he was ready to go again. Brian, also feeling the heat went looking for a drink but was told he would have to wait until he worked as hard Caolan before he deserved one. Even in Street Leagues, Caolan set standards.

Personally, I struggle to remember much from my street league days, yet Caolan made such an impression, everyone remembers him from this time. Whether it was Caolan being able to convince Daithi Curtin’s parents to allow him to join the Street Leagues or Caolan, taking the unprecedented step of playing for the age above him as well as his own age on Saturday mornings, resulting in him collecting two trophies on Finals day, something that kids could only dream of, Caolan always had a positive impact.

Caolan’s sporting brilliance continued through the underage ranks. It was mentioned a lot over the last week, that Caolan always had an air of confidence about him. Nothing seemed to faze him. When someone from the ‘Barrs started throwing his weight around in an underage championship game, other players seemed reluctant to take a stand. Not Caolan. He may have been one of the smallest fellas on the pitch that day, but it didn’t stop him standing up for his teammates, taking a stand, and quieting down the brash opponent.

Caolan was blessed with the Mulrooney sidestep. Another teammate and friend of Caolan’s, Alan Cadogan remembers the ‘iconic’ sidestep. It doesn’t seem to be something you can teach, but it is something each of the Mulrooney children and likely the parents have. Caolan perfected it.

It was impossible not to like Caolan. Martin Barry recalls a challenge game up in Urlingford one time. Martin, as he tends to be, was intense about the challenge ahead and expected to be named centre back. When the team was announced, Caolan was named to the number six position, as he so often was, so Martin had a word with him before the game. “Don’t be going running up the field and trying to score now and making me look bad from the times, I played Centre Back ,” Martin pleaded. There was almost a smirk on Caolan’s face, every time he got the ball. At one point, Caolan ran the length of the field and slotted a score from 20 metres out. As Caolan ran back to his position Martin, was absolutely bulling. As he went to give Caolan a piece of his mind after the game, a huge grin broke out on Caolan’s face. He would back his teammates up no matter what, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t wind them up whenever he got the chance as well. Martin, failed at stayed angry with Caolan and the two of them laughed about it all the way back to Cork.

Centre back was the position that Caolan made his own. Likely the most difficult position on the pitch to play, Caolan was able to excel there. It was the position he played in the Minor County final. Douglas were beaten that day, but as he always did, Caolan performed. The number six jersey seemed to be huge on him, but no challenge ever seemed too big for him. After Caolan’s passing the club decided it would not use the number six jersey at Minor level for the foreseeable future to honour Caolan.  When Douglas captured the Minor football title in 2013, the centre back that day, wore the number 26. The same when we won the Minor Hurling Title in 2015. Shane Donegan lined out at centre back wearing 26. Those attending the game, not from Douglas, may have found it strange, but everyone in the club knew that Caolan was still there with us. Still fighting alongside us, like he always did.

As I spoke to people this week about Caolan, there seems to be one frustration. There is a frustration that they can't find the words to accurately represent Caolan the way they still see him. Passionate, confident, friendly, genuine, positive, centre of attention, friend. These are all words that are used to describe him and yet everyone seems feel those words alone are not enough. Special. Special is as close as we can come. Simply put Caolan was special. He had a way about him that he would treat everyone  the same. It didn’t matter whether you were the most popular kid, or the quietest, Caolan seemed to be friends with everyone. He was always there for his friends. To this day, a number of them still wear wristbands with his name on it. It’s their way of keeping someone who meant so much to them, close.

A person like Caolan will never be forgotten. Whether its seeing someone dominating the centre back position in Douglas colours, watching his sisters Seosai and Muiread play camogie, watching his brothers Odhran and Eanna when they eventually come back to Cork and resume playing with the club, seeing someone with the ‘Caolan’ wristband or seeing his parents Eugene and Margaret, we will remember Caolan. He touched people in a way that makes those that knew him thankful to have had the opportunity. He will live on in our memories, in our club until we get to see him again. Forget icon of the week, Caolan was just an icon, a legend. He was special.

By Ray Keating 07 Dec, 2017
This video is courtesy of the Irish Examiner. Check them out here  
By Ray Keating 07 Dec, 2017

*New Year, New Opportunity*

In 2018 If your looking to

Lose weight✅

Improve fitness ✅

Improve strength ✅

Improve posture ✅

Improve mobility/stability ✅

Feel and look better ✅

Improve your knowledge of training and nutrition ✅

Looking for a challenging workout where you are coached on correctly performing exercises and your progress is monitored on a weekly basis?

Then read below ⬇️

In 2018 I will be launching a second class on Saturday mornings from 10-11.

Both Monday and Saturday classes will run simultaneously in blocks of 6 weeks (1st block 5 weeks). I will hold a talk on training and nutrition on the 1st night of each block giving people the opportunity to weigh in (optional) and set an individual plan in place for the following six weeks.

5 week block. Starting Saturday the 6th

  • 1 class a week (Mon or Sat) €40
  • 2 classes a week €70
  • Pay weekly for two classes €15

€10 pay as you go (either class)

There will be a limited number per class so booking is essential to secure your place. Gift vouchers also available.

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