Brendan Cummins still going strong for Ballybacon-Grange
By John Harrington
Former Tipperary goalkeeper, Brendan Cummins, has no plans to hang up his hurley anytime soon.
Since retiring from the inter-county scene after the 2013 Championship he’s poured all of his considerable energy into his club Ballybacon-Grange, and will stand between the posts tomorrow when they play Ardmore of Waterford in the AIB Munster Junior Club Hurling Final.
“Oh yeah, I don't want to be packing this thing in for years and years and years,” Cummins told GAA.ie.
“There's an U-6 goalie in the club who's not too bad, so I'll hang on until he's ready!
“I want to play for as long as I can, it's as simple as that. My worst nightmare now is to be above in the stand watching a match at club level and not being able to play.
“I could handle it with Tipperary, I could plan for that, but I don't think I'm every going to be able to plan for standing above in the club and watching somebody else playing in the goals.
“Not from a selfish point of view that they might be better, but from the point of view I'm just not playing anymore, I'm not contributing that way, because that's been my life since I was knee-high to a grass-hopper.
“I'm not even contemplating when that's going to happen.”
In recent years Ballybacon-Grange have dropped from the senior grade to the intermediate grade to the junior grade.
They were beaten in last year’s Tipperary Junior Final so to go one better this year was a huge moment for Cummins and everyone involved in the club.
“Yeah, it was massive. When the final whistle blew it was just complete relief.
“Looking around the pitch, I was in tears. Every fella was just stood there looking around. No-one jumped on top of each other, no-one threw helmets up in the air like graduation hats.
“It was just absolute relief that we'd gotten across the line. And then the next emotion is when the older lads in the club come into the dressing-room and they're crying.
“It's just mad. It is just the greatest ever, to be honest. It has rejuvenated the club.
“The underage structures have been really good but at adult grade we've fallen from senior, to intermediate, to junior. Now we're up intermediate next year no matter what happens so there's progress again.
“Players are buying in so it's a great buzz around the place. For me, it's given me a new lease of life. I have to say it's been fantastic.”
Cummins knows that Ballybacon-Grange will have their hands full in Sunday’s Munster Final against Ardmore.
The Waterford champions were a senior club as recently as 2014 and are powered by former Waterford stars, the Prendergast brothers, Seamus and Declan.
“They'll obviously be favourites going into it based on the way the championship matches have gone on their side of the draw, but we'll give it a good enough go as any,” said Cummins.
“And even if we don't, we've had a huge year this year in Ballybacon, winning our first county, beating the Cork Junior Champions. That was a massive occasion for us over in the field in Ardfinnan.
“So it's all getting fellas to be hurling more. The kids are going around the parish wearing jerseys and everyone in the parish seems to have a bobble-hat now at the moment with Ballybacon written on the front of it.
“It's mad stuff. The O'Neills website must be nearly burned out at this stage from sending parcels down to Ballybacon with the names of kids on them.
“What we're looking to do is make sure that kids in the club have a memory of this that will stay with them. And they'll stay playing with us.
“We're future-proofing the club. And the football part of the parish as well to give them their credit have really rowed in behind us as well.
“Everybody is together on this one. It's great and only augers well for both clubs in the future.”