Greetings from Randwick, Sydney, where Danny Cummins remains 12 months after he and his girlfriend Karen Kennedy chose not to take one of the repatriation flights home to Ireland.
The Galway players had planned to return last September, with Cummins hoping to convince Pádraic Joyce of his worth of inclusion for the 2021 campaign.
As the GAA season remains in the starting blocks, the Claregalway man’s mind has already been made up for him. Lining out for Randwick’s Young Irelands in one of the handful of countries where GAA games can be played and living without severe restrictions suits him just fine.
“The phone call I had with Pádraic in 2019, he was very sound and understanding,” recalls Cummins. “He said, ‘Do what you have to do and give me a shout when you get back and we’ll see what the story is’.
“It was just supposed to be a year. Nobody could have foreseen what would came about after that. Galway had such a great start in the National League last year and I was staying up late to watch games and I was a little jealous not being involved. But the way the year worked out, it became easier for me not to miss it.
“Every time I check Twitter, there is something going on about the GAA back home; the GAA being an elite sport then not being an elite sport. It’s just so wishy-washy I’m delighted to be nowhere near it. It’s out of people’s control and if you were involved as a player you wouldn’t know if you were coming or going.”
Cummins and Kennedy, a county camogie star, spent four weeks in Vietnam in November 2019 before landing in Sydney just as Australia was experiencing some of its worst bushfires.
“We walked into a smaller pandemic of sorts. Then Christmas came and went and we were looking for work in January. We got that sorted, accommodation too and then came March and Covid. Other couples we knew were coming to the end of their visas and as soon as Covid happened they just upped and left.
“The way we looked at it was our visas weren’t up until the end of the year, we were both working, and if it gets to dire straits we can always get on a plane and go but until then let’s stick it out. We’re thankful we did.”
With Coogee beach 20 minutes away and Royal Randwick racecourse nearby, Cummins can’t complain. Along with former Meath goalkeeper Paddy O’Rourke, he works for Antrim man Tommy Joe Johnston’s carpentry firm. Cummins and Kennedy were able to extend their visa doing the required three months of farm/regional work pursuing his horse-racing passion outside Scone, the horse capital of Australia, in the Hunter Region of New South Wales.
“I got chatting to a man called Fergal Connolly who is originally from Monivea Abbey who is over here a couple of years and he has his own Valiant Stud in New South Wales. He said he would love to take the two of us on. I told him I had no experience but I was mad interested and he said, ‘don’t worry, we’ll show you the way.’
“He’s a lady working with him as well called Ziva Mullins and she’s from Kinvara so when we moved up in July there were four Galway people working on this stud farm and they taught us so much things and it enlightened my interest and Karen loves animals as well. We stayed on for an extra month just to help out and give them a twist for looking after us so well. It’s more so the breeding that I have a huge interest in.
“I’ve been talking to people about what avenue I might get into when I get home because it’s a major interest. Our family has a farm and my dad is keeping that going with cattle and there is a bit of base there if I wanted to kick into something.”
For now, it’s in the Sydney suburb of Ingleburn where the 30-year-old gets his kicks every weekend, lining out with O’Rourke for Young Irelands in the NSW league.
Just the other week, Sydney Swans and Tipperary footballer Colin O’Riordan turned up to take in the games.
“I’m trying to play a small bit of hurling as well. You head out to Ingleburn and you’ve a scatter of teams there. It’s a cool Irish community and afterwards you have a few beers. It’s a very enjoyable way of going about it.”