Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Down and drought
'It was playing on my mind... with every game that goes by it gets worse'
Graham Cummins is back amongst the goals ahead of Cork City’s clash with Rosenborg tonight.

AFTER SENDING CORK City back to the top of the table by ending his drought in their 2-1 victory over Waterford, Graham Cummins is keen to open his European account when the Leesiders host Rosenborg at Turner’s Cross tonight (7.45pm, RTÉ 2).

Cummins found the net for the first time in seven games when he grabbed the winner in Friday’s Munster derby, which gave John Caulfield’s team a two-point lead over a Dundalk side who have the advantage of two games in hand.

Graham Cummins Ryan Byrne / INPHO Graham Cummins pictured before Cork City's game against Waterford at the RSC last Friday. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

For Cummins, the arrival of his long-awaited 13th league goal of the season has given him a timely boost ahead of a massive game for City, who face the Norwegian champions over two legs in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Cummins, who’s now in his second spell with his hometown club, made his European debut for City in last month’s Champions League tie against Legia Warsaw. Having helped the club to win the First Division title in 2011, he departed for a six-year spell in the UK from which he returned at the start of this season.

“As a striker, no matter what you do on the pitch, you’ll always be judged on goals,” Cummins says when addressing his barren spell in front of goal. “It was playing on my mind and with every game that goes by it gets worse and worse. But you just have to keep going.

“I have gone on longer goal droughts in the past and you just have to believe that a goal is coming. Luckily enough, it came the other night and I was a bit unfortunate not to have another one after that. I have been a different person in training this week; a lot more confident in myself and hopefully it just kicks on from there.”

The 30-year-old striker, who also chipped in with three goals for City in this season’s Munster Senior Cup and President’s Cup, had spells with Preston North End, Rochdale, Exeter City and St Johnstone during his time across the water.

He adds: “I’m just off scoring one [goal] in two [games] this season, which is kind of my aim. Not scoring in a lot of games, you get very frustrated. You don’t think of the positives of the past, you think of just the negatives right now.

“It’s kind of hard as a striker — you could go six or seven games really good and six or seven games really bad. The negative is all you’ll focus on then. I think it’s human nature; we just focus on negatives too much instead of positives. It’s been different this week for me. I’m a lot happier. I’m probably a nicer person to be around, whereas I was a grump before that. You’ve caught me at a good time to do a press conference, to be fair.

“Things are going well but what will count for me is what the rewards are at the end of the season. At the moment means nothing. I said it after the Waterford game when people were saying it was a brilliant three points, but it was only three points. If it doesn’t mean anything at the end of the season there’s nothing to celebrate.”

Graham Cummins celebrates scoring their second goal Ryan Byrne / INPHO Cummins in the aftermath of his goal against Waterford. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

City have been in good form domestically since suffering disappointment at the hands of Legia Warsaw. Three consecutive Premier Division wins have restored their belief following a 3-0 second-leg defeat in Poland three weeks ago.

Cummins says: “We’ve certainly been playing well in the last three games. It’s good for us because you go into games with a lot more confidence. Being top of the league going into this game makes a big difference to us. It creates a buzz around the city as well.

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“If we went to Waterford, drew the game and were only level on points [with Dundalk], it probably would have been really tough to take. But we’re in good stead now. We’ve been coming into training with smiles on our faces and really looking forward to it.”

Facing a Rosenborg side who were knocked out of the Champions League’s qualifying rounds by Celtic last week, City are aiming to set up a clash with the losers of the Champions League tie between RB Salzburg (Austria) and KF Shkëndija (Macedonia).

Should City advance after next Thursday’s second leg in Trondheim, it’s likely that Shkëndija will stand between the League of Ireland leaders and a place in the Europa League’s group stages. The Macedonian champions lost 3-0 in last night’s first leg in Austria.

“Obviously the draw has been made for the next round but I haven’t really looked at it,” Cummins insists. “I’m just looking at the first leg against Rosenborg and then you work from there. You can’t get too far ahead of yourselves. It’s a two-legged tie so if you start thinking about the next round you’ll get ahead of yourselves.

“We’ve got to look at this game only. We’ve got to do a job and then going away from home in Europe is extremely difficult. The way I’m looking at it — and I’m pretty sure all the lads will be too — is to just go out at Turner’s Cross and hopefully get a good result that we can take to Norway.”

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