|Irish name||Reamonn Ó Coimín|
9 November 1948 |
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
Maurice Raymond "Ray" Cummins (born 9 November 1948 in Ballinlough, Cork) is a retired Irish sportsperson. A dual player at the highest levels, he played hurling with his local club Blackrock and was a member of the Cork senior inter-county team from 1969 until 1982. Cummins also played Gaelic football with his local club St. Michael's and was a member of the Cork senior inter-county team from 1968 until 1978. Cummins is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers of all-time.
Cummins' status as one of the all-time hurling greats is self-evident. In a senior inter-county career that lasted for thirteen years he won four All-Ireland titles, nine Munster titles, three National Hurling League titles and three Railway Cup titles with Munster.
As a Gaelic footballer Cummins also enjoyed the ultimate in success. In a senior inter-county football career that lasted for ten years Cummins won one All-Ireland title, three Munster titles and one Railway Cup title with Munster.
A very tall, slim player, generally towering over his opponents, Cummins used his physical attributes to telling effect by punching many fine points in football and 'catching high' and delivering many winning scores in hurling. As a hurler Cummins is credited with redefining and revolutionising the full-forward position throughout the 1970s. As a tall, non-confrontational player Cummins was, at first, seen as the antithesis of what a full-forward should. He did, however, use the skills and space that were available to him and, in time, he became a deadly marksman in front of goal. In 2000 Cummins's contribution to the game of hurling were recognised when he was named in the full-forward position on the GAA Hurling Team of the Millennium.
Ray Cummins was born in Ballinlough in Cork in 1948. He was born into a family that had a strong tradition on hurling excellence. His father, Willie Cummins, played hurling with the Cork minor team in the 1930s. He captured back-to-back All-Ireland minor titles in 1938 and 1939. Cummins's grandfather, William 'Bowler' Walsh, played hurling with the Cork senior team in the early part of the century. He lined out in two All-Ireland finals in 1912 and 1915, however, he ended up on the losing side on both occasions. In time Ray Cummins would come to be regarded as one of the great players of his generation and as one of the greatest dual players of all-time. He honed his hurling and football skills during street games in the 1950s on the Ballinlough Road, and later carried his skills to the nearby Blackrock and St. Michael's clubs. He attended Coláiste Chríost Rí where, along with his brothers Brendan and Kevin, he became part of the sporting success of the school. In the late 1960s Cummins attended University College Cork where he studied engineering. Here he played on the college hurling and football teams, winning a Fitzgibbon Cup hurling title in 1967 and back-to-back Sigerson Cup football titles in 1969 and 1970.
Cummins played his club hurling with the famous Blackrock club and enjoyed much success. He first tasted victory with the club in 1966 when he won a county minor championship title with 'the Rockies.'
During his tenure in university Cummins also played in the senior championships with the UCC hurling and football teams. In 1969 he won a county senior football championship winners'medal, before adding a county senior hurling championship title to his collection in 1970.
When Cummins graduated from university he joined the Blackrock senior hurling team. He also played club football with 'the rockies' sister club, St. Michael's. In 1973 Cummins won his second senior county hurling title, his first with Blackrock. Cummins's side later represented Cork in the provincial club championship. A two-point defeat of Clare's Newmarket-on-Fergus in the provincial final gave Cummins a coveted Munster club winners' medal. The subsequent All-Ireland final pitted Blackrock against Rathnure. A rousing draw was followed by a great replay. Superb late goals by Donie Collins and Éamonn O'Donoghue secured a 3–8 to 1–9 victory and an All-Ireland club title for Cummins.
Two years later in 1975 Cummins won another county winners' medal with Blackrock. Once again the club later captured the Munster title following an 8–12 to 3–8 defeat of Waterford's Mount Sion. Kilkenny's James Stephens later provided the opposition in the All-Ireland final. Five points down at half-time, the Kilkenny club came storming back and defeated Cummins's side by 2–10 to 2–4.
In 1978 Cummins captured a third county championship title with his club. Once again 'the Rockies' stormed through the provincial championship and defeated Newmarket-on-Fergus by two goals, giving Cummins a third Munster club title. The All-Ireland final saw Cork take on Kilkenny again. This time it was Blackrock versus Ballyhale Shamrocks. Cummins scored two goals in rapid succession in the opening thirty minutes to put his club in the driving seat. At the full-time whistle Blackrock were the winners by 5–7 to 5–5. It was Cummins's second All-Ireland club winners' medal.
In 1979 Cummins won another Cork county championship title with Blackrock. In a similar sequence of events to previous years the club later defeated Dunhill of Waterford to take the Munster club title. It was Cummins's fourth provincial club title. Blackrock's All-Ireland trail came to an end at the semi-final stage.
Minor and Under-21
In the early 1960s Cummins went for a trial with the Cork Under-15 hurling team and, in one of the major oversights of Cork hurling, a future star was turned away. He was subsequently accepted onto the inter-county minor hurling team. Cummins captured a Munster title in this grade as Cork trounced GAlway by 6–7 to 2–8. The subsequent All-Ireland final pitted Cork against Wexford. An entertaining game ended in a 6–7 draw, however, Wexford won the replay by 4–1 to 1–8.
Cummins later joined the Cork under-21 hurling team and enjoyed some more success. In 1968 he captured a Munster title in this grade following a 4–10 to 1–13 defeat of Tipperary. The All-Ireland final saw Cork take on arch-rivals Kilkenny. An exciting game followed, however, Cork were the victors by 2–18 to 3–9, giving Cummins an All-Ireland under-21 medal.
Cummins was eligible to play with the Cork under-21 team again in 1969. He won a second Munster winners' medal that year as Cork defeated Tipperary by 3–11 to 1–5. The subsequent All-Ireland final saw Cork take on Wexford, a team Cummins remembered from his minor days. A high-scoring game followed, however, Cork were the victors by 5–13 to 4–7, giving Cummins a second All-Ireland under-21 medal.
Cummins first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Cork senior football team in 1968. The following year he became a dual player when he made his first appearance on the Cork senior hurling side. Cummins's first appearance was when he came on as a substitute in the Munster final trouncing of Tipperary. This win allowed Cork to advance directly to the All-Ireland final where Kilkenny provided the opposition. It was Cummins's first full game with the senior hurling team. It was a baptism of fire for the young hurlers as he was marking Pa Dillon, one of Kilkenny's most intimidating players. Cork took an early lead, however, after Pat Delaney was stretchered off Kilkenny came from behind to win the game by 2–15 to 2–9.
In 1970 Cummins captured a second Munster winners' medal at senior level as Tipperary were accounted for by 3–10 to 3–8. Cork later qualified for the All-Ireland final. Wexford provided the opposition in the very first eighty-minute championship decider. The game saw a record 64-point score line for both teams as Cork's Eddie O'Brien scored a hat-trick of goal to give Cork a considerable lead. At full-time Cork were the winners by 6–21 to 5–10, giving Cummins his first senior All-Ireland winners' medal.
In 1971 Cork's hurlers failed, however, the footballers emerged from the wilderness. Cork defeated Kerry by 0–25 to 0–14 in the provincial final, giving Cummins his first Munster football medal. Cork were later defeated by eventual champions Offaly in the All-Ireland semi-final. Cummins's skill as an all-round hurling and football star was acknowledged at the end of 1971 when he was picked on both inaugural All-Star teams.
A return to hurling in 1972 saw Cummins win his first National Hurling League title following a narrow win over Limerick. The success continued later that year as Cork trounced Clare by 6–18 to 2–8, giving Cummins a third Munster winners' medal. Cummins later lined out in a third All-Ireland final in four years, with Kilkenny providing the opposition for a second time. In one of the classic All-Ireland finals, he scored two goals in that game to put Cork in the driving seat. With time running out Kilkenny were eight points in arrears, however, one of the most amazing reversals of fortune took place. 'The Cats' fought back and finished seven points ahead on a score line of 3–24 to 5–11. It was a bitter All-Ireland defeat for Cummins, his second at the hands of Kilkenny.
In 1973 Cummins turned his attentions back to football, winning a second Munster title following a 5–12 to 1–15 victory over great rivals Kerry. The team later qualified for the All-Ireland final with Galway providing the opposition. Teenager Jimmy Barry-Murphy scored the first of his two goals after just two minutes to set the tone. Cork had a reasonably comfortable 3–17 to 2–13 victory and Cummins became only the tenth player in the history of Gaelic games to win senior All-Ireland medals in both hurling and football.
In 1974 the Cork hurling team bounced back somewhat with Cummins capturing a second National League winners' medal after a defeat of Limerick. He later added a third Munster football winners' medal to his collection as Kerry were accounted for once again. While Cork were the favourites to retain the All-Ireland football title the team's march to victory came to an abrupt halt when Dublin defeated them in the All-Ireland semi-final. It would by nine years before the Cork football would return to Croke Park.
1975 saw the Cork hurlers return to the big time. Cummins captured a fourth Munster winners' medal that year following the provincial final trouncing of Limerick. Cork, however, were defeated by surprise package Galway in the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final.
1976 saw Cork retain their Munster title with another huge 4–14 to 3–5 win over neighbouring Limerick. It was Cummins's fifth Munster winner's medal. This victory allowed Cork to advance directly to the All-Ireland final where Wexford provided the opposition. Both sides had high expectations. Cork got off to the worst possible start in an All-Ireland final and trailed by 2–2 after six minutes. Cork battled back, however, the game hung in the balance for much of the seventy. With ten minutes left Wexford were two points to the good, however, three points by Jimmy Barry-Murphy, two by Pat Moylan and a kicked effort from captain Cummins gave Cork a 2–21 to 4–11 victory. It was Cummins's second All-Ireland winners' medal.
In 1977 Cork reached their third consecutive Munster decider with Clare as the opposition. 'The Rebels' got off to a great start with a Tim Crowley penalty after just seventy-five seconds. Clare fought back, however, Cork still defeated fourteen-man Clare by 4–15 to 4–10. A subsequent defeat of Galway set up a second consecutive All-Ireland final showdown with Wexford. Like the previous year the game turned into a close, exciting affair. A Seánie O'Leary goal, together with some brilliant saves by goalkeeper Martin Coleman helped Cork to a 1–17 to 3–8 victory. The victory also resulted in a third All-Ireland winners' medal for Cummins.
1978 saw Cork dominate the provincial championship once again. Clare provided the opposition in second consecutive Munster showdown between the two sides. The game was a close affair and one which Cork could have lost. At the full-time whistle Cork still had a narrow 0–13 to 0–11 win to give Cummins a seventh Munster title. This victory paved the way for Cork to take on Kilkenny in the subsequent All-Ireland final. The stakes were high as Cork were attempting to capture a first three in-a-row since 1954. The game, however, was not the classic that many expected. Cork were never really troubled over the course of the seventy minutes and a Jimmy Barry-Murphy goal helped the team to a 1–15 to 2–8 victory over their age-old rivals. This victory gave Cork a third All-Ireland title in succession and gave Cummins a fourth All-Ireland winners' medal in total.
In 1979 Cork were invincible in the provincial championship once again. A 2–15 to 0–9 trouncing of Limerick gave the county a record-equaling fifth consecutive Munster title. On a personal level it was Cummins's eighth Munster winners' medal. After this game it looked likely that Cork were set for a fourth consecutive appearance in the All-Ireland final and the chance to equal the seemingly unbeatable record of four championships in-a-row. The All-Ireland semi-final saw Galway catch Cork on the hop once again. A 2–14 to 1–13 defeat ended the dream of four in-a-row.
In 1980 Cummins won his third and final National Hurling League medal, however, it turned out to be the first time since 1968 that he didn't win a Munster winners' medal in either hurling or football.
Two years later in 1982 Cummins won his ninth Munster hurling winners' medal following a 5–31 to 3–6 trouncing of Waterford. At one stage of that Munster final game Cork were nerally thirty points ahead when Cummins got through on goal. He could have sent the sliotar into the net for a goal, however, in a sporting gesture, he handpassed it over the bar. The subsequent All-Ireland final saw Cork take on Kilkenny. 'The Rebels' were the red-hot favourites, however, Kilkenny surprised. Christy Heffernan scored two goals in a forty-second spell just before the interval to take the wind out of Cork's sails. Ger Fennelly got a third goal within eight minutes of the restart, giving Kilkenny a 3–18 to 1–15 victory. It was to be Cummins's last outing for Cork as he later decided to retire from inter-county hurling.
Cummins also lined out with Munster in both the inter-provincial hurling and football competition and enjoyed much success. He first played for his province in 1969 as a member of the football team, however, Munster were trounced by Connacht on that occasion. The following year Cummins was selected on the Munster hurling team and played in his first inter-provincial hurling decider. After a 2–15 to 0–9 thrashing of Leinster he picked up a coveted Railway Cup winners' medal. Cummins was a regular fixture on the team over the next few years, however, success was difficult to come by in both codes. He did, however, win a Railway Cup medal with the Munster footballers in 1972. After five years of Leinster domination in the hurling competition, Munster broke back in 1976 with Cummins adding a second Railway Cup hurling winners' medal to his collection. Two years later a defeat of Connacht gave him his third winners' memento with the province's hurlers. Cummins continued to line out with the Munster hurlers until 1980, however, he failed to have any further success.
At the time of his retirement Cummins had won every single honour in the game. He continues to support his club and county, however, he has had little, if any, involvement as a selector or coach. Since his retirement from the game Cummins has come to be regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time. He holds the distinction of being one of only four players to have been awarded All-Star awards in both hurling and football.
As a player with Blackrock in the provincial and All-Ireland club championships, Cummins's skill earned him a selection on the club championship silver jubilee team in 1996. Four years later he was given the ultimate accolade by his county, his province and the Gaelic Athletic Association. Cummins was named in the full-forward position on all three Teams of the Millennium. His inclusion as full-forward on the national Team of the Millennium, at the expense of Nicky Rackard, cemented his reputation as the greatest number fourteen of all-time.
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|Cork Senior Hurling Captain
|All-Ireland Senior Hurling