Cooley king Cummins bids for perfect ten
Published 30/07/2016 | 02:30
Despite bidding to leave the heights of the Cooley Mountains victorious for the tenth time in today's M Donnelly All-Ireland Poc Fada, Brendan Cummins quickly reminds himself of his first attempt at the competition he now monopolises
Goalkeeping adversary and current Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald won the title that day in 2002 and Cummins recalls how a frustrating three-hour drive back to Tipperary gave him all the motivation he needed to become the undisputed 'King of the Mountain'.
"We're all competitive beings, whether it's down on the pitch or on the mountain with no-one looking, you want to win whatever you're in, simple as. I remember driving home thinking, 'I can do better than that'," he said.
"Plus, Davy beat me! He was like God going around the mountain, running the whole show and he was real Davy, real competitive, and I said, 'Jesus, that's something I'd like to win'. Then once I'd won it I said I'd see how many times I can win it now. Ger Cunningham had the record at eight and I suppose everybody who's playing would like to leave their mark no matter what game they're playing. I figured if I could get to eight that would be great, now my next thing is to see how far it can go to make sure that nobody else beats it."
The Poc Fada atmosphere is more relaxed than the helter-skelter of championship action with supporters able to get up close with all the contestants but the mood quickly changes at the start.
"When the fella is handed a hurling ball with his number on it, and you're responsible for getting that around the mountain in the fewest amount of pucks, and there's 12 lads there with you, you don't want to be last, you want to try and win it," Cummins said.
"I can see fellas' faces changing as soon as they stand at the start. I've seen fellas tank on the first puck, they hit it maybe 30 yards, just passes the stones, like the ladies tee-box in golf, because there's maybe 100 people around the start. Then it suddenly becomes real."
All-Star Colm Callanan is one of many trying to wrestle the title from him but Cummins is the hot favourite.