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Cork assassin striking for silverware to set career on its way

PLAYING ABROAD remains a key objective for Cork City striker Graham Cummins -- but not before he completes his unfinished business with the club and helps them to some silverware.

Cork, currently enduring their second season of Division One football, remain very much in the hunt for a place back in the top flight next season.

But the club, which almost went out of business before it was saved by a fan-based consortium two years ago, can also achieve something major and win the first trophy since the club was reborn, that chance coming in the final of the EA Sports Cup against Derry City in Turner's Cross tonight (6pm).

"It would mean an awful lot to us if we won this trophy tonight, to be the group of players who brought the first piece of silverware to the 'new' Cork City would be something else," says striker Cummins, Cork's top scorer this season with 21 goals in all competitions so far, and a key man in Tommy Dunne's Cork team.

"The club was really at a low point last year, with all the financial problems and legal battles and relegation to the First Division. I suppose then the main thing was that the club survived and kept going. But we're in with a chance of doing something really great this season. Promotion remains our main aim, as a club like Cork City just have to be in the Premier Division, and we can still do that. We're in with a good chance of doing that, and winning the EA Sports Cup would be a bonus," added Cummins.

Dublin may still be in a blue haze of celebration from the footballers' win in Croke Park a week ago but Cork is also getting a buzz surrounding today's game.

And so is former Waterford United and Cobh Ramblers man Cummins, who knows that this season could be his last as a League of Ireland player. A number of cross-channel teams have been tracking the 23-year-old, his impressive record in front of goal -- 36 league goals in two seasons for Cork, not too bad for a player who began life as a centre-half -- making him a possible transfer target.

Clubs like Millwall, Derby County and Burnley have all been sniffing after him this year but Cummins stayed on at Cork during the last transfer window, though a move at the end of this season is very likely, especially if he keeps up this form and lands that double of promotion and a League Cup win for City.

"I think most players in the league here would like the chance to play in England or Scotland and I'm no different. I'd love to give it a try across the water," says Cummins.

"Times have changed. A few years ago the money in League of Ireland football was so good that players didn't have to leave Ireland, but that's so different now. You have the whole economic situation here which is very bad. Going to England isn't just a matter of moving to a new club, it's the chance of getting a job," added Cummins, who previously had a trial with the Roy Keane-era Sunderland.

"I would like to try my luck in England but I'm in no hurry and any move would have to be right for me and for Cork City. I suppose my form did dip a bit over the summer when the transfer window was about to close and nothing was happening for me but I had a chat with the manager here, we agreed that I'd at least see out the season with Cork and then see what happens for next year.

"I don't know where I will be next season. I could still be at Cork City, but all I want is for Cork City FC to be back in the Premier Division and have the EA Sports Cup won."

Despite having home advantage, Cork will find that Derry are very tricky opponents tonight. Not only are Derry the experts at winning the League Cup, they're also a very good side away from home, so Cummins is wary of Stephen Kenny's men.

"It should be an open game. Derry are not coming here for a draw, they're coming here to win the game and that's a challenge for us to play against," he says. "These games are tough. I played in the League Cup final two years ago, with Waterford against Bohs, and the game was over before we'd started.

"Bohs just hit us hard early on and killed the game off, so we have to stop that happening tonight.

"If we are sloppy in any way, Derry will punish us as they're a good side. They're not top of the Premier Division for nothing.

"But we have the Cork crowd behind us and this group of players is very hungry to win something. Hopefully that will be enough for us."


Derry City

p Salthill Devon, W 4-2 (AET)

p Mervue United, W 2-1

p UCD, W 3-0

p Sligo Rovers, D 3-3, W 5-3 on pens

Cork City

p Wexford Youths, W 1-0

p St Patrick's Athletic, W 2-1

p Limerick, W 3-1 (AET)