Brendan Cummins admits he broke down after Tipperary’s 2013 All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Kilkenny — his last appearance in the county jersey.
The championship appearance record holder kept himself in check on the Nowlan Park pitch but admits he was inconsolable in the dressing room.
In his Laochra Gael programme to be screened on TG4 next Tuesday, an emotional Cummins revealed: “I had a feeling from when I started training to running around the pitch in December to doing the weights at home through January, February and March, that it was going to be the last time I was going to be doing it. Then when the final whistle went, it dawned on me that ‘this was it’. I’m not big in the whole tears thing and that but I couldn’t stop when I got back to the dressing room. I was a fecking mess! I just had to let it out. There was no way I could bottle it up and do it at home. This was the time. Closure. When I walked out the dressing room, that was it.”
Cummins credits the Tipperary supporters with convincing him the county were going to win the 2010 All-Ireland title. He was buoyed by the reception the team received in Thurles the day after losing the previous year’s final to Kilkenny .
“It was devastation,” he said of the immediate feeling after the defeat. “I’ll never forget it, even to this day. You wouldn’t believe it. Seeing lads sitting down and tears running down their faces.
“Tipp supporters... we got back to Thurles on Monday night and I knew after Monday night we were going to win the All-Ireland the following year. I just knew it.”
Cummins feared he might have lost his starting jersey forever if his heroics not kept Kilkenny to three goals in the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final. “If Kilkenny scored six or seven goals that day, I was finished. That would have been it. I felt a lot through that game that while I was fighting to keep Tipperary in the game, I was fighting to keep myself in hurling as well.”
On his demotion to the bench by Babs Keating and being replaced by Gerry Kennedy for the first replay of the 2007 Munster semi-final against Limerick, Cummins recalls keeping a diary to help him through a turbulent summer.
“When I went home that night after being dropped, there was the usual ‘what am I going to do now?’ So I decided a diary was going to be the way forward. So every day I’d get to work 20 minutes or half an hour earlier and write how I felt that day and how I felt the night before. You need something to vent it. I couldn’t start shouting and roaring about it. That’s dragging Tipperary through the gutter and that was never an option.
“So the diary was great. Looking back on it now, it looks like the rantings and ravings of a crazy person. But at the time it kept me sane.”
— Brendan Cummins — Laochra Gael will be screened on TG4 on St Patrick’s Day at 5.30pm
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