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03rd Dec 2017

Tipperary legend settling back into club life will strike home with all retired inter-county players

"I would have regretted my decision to leave Tipp"

Darragh Culhane

It’d be like being thrown into the deep end.

Being an inter-county player has its serious demands. The average week normally goes something a bit like this.

  • Recovery session or off-day on Monday
  • Training Tuesday
  • Gym Wednesday
  • Training Thursday
  • Recovery session Friday
  • Training or match on Saturday/Sunday

This isn’t even including the team meetings and one-on-one feedback sessions with management that are regular too.

It takes over your whole life – it is your life. Despite working a full-time job, being an inter-county player is a full-time job in itself between the training and the eating, the camps and the games.

And they do it all for nothing but the pride of playing for their county.

But next thing you know, you’re done. The best of careers have to come to an end. Father time catches up with everyone.

Brendan Cummins announced he was hanging up his inter-county boots in 2013, 18 years after making his senior debut, and it was a career that finished with two All-Ireland medals so there are no regrets. The five All-Stars he amassed proved he was one of the best.

But now he’s back with the club and things are going well with Ballybacon-Grange in a Junior final but it’s always going to be weird going from the elite level of inter-county to Junior hurling club.

“The transition is gas,” Cummins said.

“You go from a county set-up where there’s 25-30 training every night. And then you go back to where training is down for half seven and it’s only quarter to eight or eight before you get going.

“There could be just eight or nine or 10 lads. So you could say there’s a bit of patience involved in that. At the same time, because we went back junior a couple of years ago, we were then in a grade we felt we could win.  And suddenly more guys came to the pitch and we’re getting the benefits of that now.”
Cummins was evidently unsure about leaving the inter-county scene. It made sense because of the family commitments and lack of game time. It made sense full stop.
But there’s always going to be that nagging doubt of ‘are you still good enough to play inter-county?’ What if you went back with your club and were still playing well?
To combat that, Cummins decided to play outfield for his first year and ended up scoring 19 points in one game:

“Yeah, I was inside against Cahir in Clonmel, it was mad stuff,” Cummins said. 
“There were a few frees thrown in as well, but it was just one of those days. I had played outfield in conditioning games with Tipperary the previous year so you do get to a level where you’re moving that bit faster, so I suppose that was probably a carry-over. And then it was just one of those days where everything just went right.
“I played out the field because I didn’t want to play in the goals having retired. Because if I was playing well in the goals I would have regretted my decision to leave Tipp. So I said I’d go out the field and there would be no hope then of saying I should have stayed another year or anything like that. 
“Because I suppose my philosophy had always been you should leave a year or two early from the inter-county set-up. There’s no good waiting until you’ve gone stale. That’s the rule of thumb I worked off. So I played out the field and it worked out fine and then I was back in goals the following year.”
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