Graham Cummins feels the love at Cork City

Graham Cummins. Pic: Inpho

They used to say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Cork City striker Graham Cummins knows better.

“My wife has always said to me that I need to get her a match ball, so it was good to pick up a match ball after the Sligo game,” said the striker, after claiming the prize for a hat-trick against Sligo Rovers last month.

“I can get her flowers down in Tesco or Dunnes Stores, but I can’t just walk into a shop and get a hat-trick ball for her.

“I’m still thinking of somewhere to put it. My mam is after losing my other match ball. I’ll think of somewhere to put it where I can get a good view of it. My wife seemed to want it more than me, so I made sure I got it.”

 

Wife Lynne may find the football has company on the mantelpiece in the Cummins house after Graham was yesterday named SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers’ Player of the Month for February.

It’s been an eventful return to League of Ireland for Cummins. A goal and a red card on his first league game back at his hometown club after eight years in England and Scotland, and a hat-trick 10 days later as Cork City went top of the Premier Division.

“To be fair, if you’d said to me I’d get four goals in the month of February I’d have bitten your hand off. The first goal of the season is always the hardest one to get. It just gets you on a roll after that. Then to get a hat-trick against Sligo, I think my last hat-trick was for Cork against Finn Harps and that was a long time ago.”

Coming home has caused few problems for Cummins since signing he signing for City from St Johnstone in pre-season.

“I didn’t know exactly what I was coming back to in terms of the club, because obviously the club changed so much in six years. It actually shocked me how more advanced the club was than I thought it would be. I knew they had upped their game a lot but it was far more impressive than I’d expected. I am really enthusiastic going into work every day. I think Cork is more professional than many clubs I played with when I was in the UK. I just think Cork said, ‘This is the way things need to be run’.”

Since leaving Turner’s Cross in 2010 as a First Division winner, Cummins played for Preston, Rochdale, Exeter, and St Johnstone before making the return to Cork. Despite a goal against Rangers earlier this season, the cross-channel experience has begun to turn a bit sour for the Corkman.

“I did enjoy it. Sometimes when you are not playing it can be really tough. I went through a period at the start of this year with St Johnstone where it was tough because I was not playing as much as I’d like. Sometimes I felt like I was coming into the team and if we’d lose the game, then straight away I was the first name out. It’s hard going into games and getting a rhythm going knowing if we lose one game I’m back out of the team.

“But I did enjoy it. I love the fact that I went over and I know exactly what it’s like over there. I would have always regretted had I not gone over.

“It was a really good experience but obviously in the back of my head I was thinking that someday I would come back to Cork. It was always the plan for myself and my wife that we would come back at some stage. When the opportunity arose, when John came over and spoke to me just before Christmas, the ball started rolling from there and we felt it was the right thing to do.”

After suffering a gut check when outfought and outplayed by Dundalk at Oriel Park last Friday, City steadied the ship with a 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers on Monday, and boss John Caulfield expects a battle at the Markets Field.

“Limerick will be playing out of their skins tomorrow,” warned Caulfield. “I saw them in the first game of the season, away to Sligo, and they won last week against Bray at home. I was at their game at home to Bohemians as well, when they conceded right at the end. They’re unbeaten at home. Limerick will raise their game and it is a very dangerous game for us. it will be a dogfight, we know that.”

Alan Bennett and Steven Beattie are both rated 50/50 to make this evening’s game, Josh O’Hanlon has a knock, while illness makes Garry Buckley a doubt.

Midfield playmaker Barry McNamee was restored to the City starting line-up against Rovers after being benched against Dundalk. The former Derry man accepts whatever role manager Caulfield asks.

“If you asked any player they would be disappointed not to play. I came here to paly and think I’m good enough to play but there’s more than me to worry about. He picked a team that he thinks was best to beat Dundalk. You just have to get on with it. It was more disappointing not to get the result against Dundalk.

“There’s nobody going to play every week. i just want to help the team.”

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