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Introducing Hall of Fame Tribute to Jaz Cummins of Glanworth, Co. Cork
In The True Spirit of Amateur Sport, Jaz Cummins of Glanworth G.A.A. Club Reflects The Real Ethos Of The Founders
Exceptional Player; Trainer; Referee; Athlete; Selector & Mentor to Men and Women in G.A.A. Codes
Browsing through realms of my research files in the fall of 2019, one particular storyline stood out from all others. An unknown author made reference to a G.A.A. man who had refereed in excess of 100 matches in one year and looking at the accompanying picture, I realised the referee was more than a yard or two beyond the half century mark.
Instantly I knew this was an exceptional sportsman and so began my investigation to locate, meet and interview my subject. What I discovered was one of Ireland’s greatest gaels with oceans of G.A.A. loyalty and commitment, far beyond normal realms and the longevity of the services rendered, was also truly exceptional.
Radio, TV and news publications chase the household sporting famous names, but side by side with all the legends, stands a unique Corkman who never sought publicity, remuneration or special treatment, yet his sporting deeds would be far beyond, even the greatest G.A.A. legends on and off the field.
For G.A.A. fans the CV of Jaz (James) Cummins is testament to the quote, that still within the G.A.A. we can discover people, who are what the G.A.A. was set up to be...an amateur association. Enjoy this true sporting story.
Excelled with Gaelic Football and Ladies Football as an Exceptional Coach
Jaz (James) Cummins of Labbycally, Glanworth, Co. Cork was one of seventeen children.
- Started athletics career with Grange A.C. Co. Cork in 1959.
- Became the first club person to win county title in 1960, when he won the 6 miles Novice Cross County race at Castle Grounds, Mallow.
- In the early years of an illustrious sporting career, Jaz won 4 All Ireland athletics medals running with Cork, taking gold in junior and minor in 1961; junior again in 1962 and senior in 1963.
- An army career beckoned in 1963 and it was here that the sporting career of Jaz Cummins went into overdrive in participation in G.A.A. and Athletics.
- First posting was at Collins Barracks, Cork, and it was here from 1963 until 1979, that Jaz Cummins went from his formative adult years up to his 27th year establishing himself as an exceptional sportsman.
- As an enthusiastic Army athlete the Glanworth native claimed 14 Command Championships; 2 All Army Cross Country titles and 14 Command Football Championship medals with the 4th Battalion.
- Jaz also won 2 All Army medals, one with the 4th Battalion and one with the Southern Command.
- A major change in career destination occurred in 1973, when Jaz was transferred from Collin’s Barracks, Cork, to Fitzgerald Camp, Fermoy, just a few miles from his homeplace.
- Sport continued unabated at Fermoy, as Jaz went about excelling once again and claimed 2 Command football medals with the 1st Cavalry Squadron and further honours were garnered in 1980 with the 1st Cavalry, when he won an All Army title.
- The rich vein of success continued with the winning of 4 successive All Army Cross Country veteran championships in 1986/’87/’88 and ’89.
- Marathon running was an athletics code that Jaz also competed in and his participation in 8 marathons between Dublin and Cork is a remarkable statistic.The stand out and most successful marathon, was in 1982, when Jaz ran the 26 miles and 385 yards, in 2 hours 45 minutes.
- Hurling was another code extremely popular with this exceptional competitor and he claimed 2 Command hurling medals. However gaelic football and athletics were the dominant sports codes.
- After serving his country for 30 years, Jaz Cummins took Army retirement in 1993, aged a youthful 51 and supremely fit.
- Gaelic football at club level began in 1958 when lining out with Glanworth in the Avondhu minor football championship v Mitchelstown, which the latter club won.
- Another club in nearby residence, Grange, were a football stronghold and in 1960 Jaz switched his allegiance to their ranks. Now aged 18 and a prominent footballer, he played junior ‘A ‘ football in the Grange colours and in 1964 and again in 1966.Jaz claimed 2 Avondhu championship titles. Grange also contested the 1966 Cork junior football championship final, losing to Dohenys of Dunmanway, in a close encounter.
- With Grange Jaz captained the clubs under 21 football team to win the Avondhu championship in 1963. Honours achieved in Grange colours also include 4 divisional Fitzgerald Cup League junior football titles in the 1960’s.
- A milestone decision, in 1968 took Jaz back to the club of his youth, Glanworth, and many sporting chapters were established thereafter, as Jaz became a pillar of the Glanworth club.
- With Glanworth the year 1971 is a stand out statistic as Jaz lined out at midfield with former Cork minor footballer, Dónal Aherne, who wrote his own chapter of history, when captaining the rebels to successive All Ireland minor titles in 1967 and 1968. The formidable duo were major assets to Glanworth in 1971and won the Avondhu and Cork county junior football championship titles.
- Promotion to intermediate football grade for the 1972 season, elevated the club to a new status and in a remarkable run of victories, Glanworth contested, back to back, 2 county finals. However good fortune evaded the Glanworth boys in both finals, losing to Dohenys and Kilmurry respectively.
- In 1976 Glanworth achieved a major ambition by claiming the county intermediate football title, virtue of defeating renowned Ballyvourney in the county final, again with Jaz holding down one of the midfield berths and now aged 34.
- The 1976 title victory also bestowed the honour of Glanworth becoming the very first Cork championship team to play in the revamped 1976 Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium. An interesting Glanworth statistic of their 1976 intermediate triumph, is that the scoreline records reveal, that their divisional and county march to outright honours, were all won by just a solitary point.
- Glanworth’s golden era of the 1970’s showcased many of the clubs greatest players, with names such as Dónal Aherne, John Courtney, John Fahy, Ted Linehan, Paul Cotter, Billy McAuliffe and Joe O’Brien, all football names treasured in the locality.
- Jaz Cummins, the former Army athlete, applied himself with great zeal to sport and throughout his entire life abstained from alcohol and smoking, thus ensuring, that at all times, he had no distractions from performing at the top of his ability. His supreme level of fitness throughout an exceptionally long sports career, had many rewards for the Glanworth sportsman.
- In 1972 another milestone occurred, as Jaz the trainer, took over coaching Glanworth’s No.1 adult team, culminating in the historic 1976 intermediate county title. Jaz was also at the helm as Glanworth made history by competing in the county senior football championship as a Cork senior club.
- Similar to all Army personnel, in-between the lifetime of Jaz’s sporting career, overseas duty with the Army came calling in 1968 (Cyprus) and 1980 (Lebanon), but these events were just minor intrusions in the sporting career of Jaz Cummins.
- During his Army career, aside from competing in G.A.A. and Athletics, Jaz also found time to serve his time as a budding referee of Army competitions and Avondhu and Cork G.A.A. owe a great deal of gratitude to the foresight of a remarkable Cork athlete.
- The job of referee took up a vast amount of leisure time for almost 30 years and the numbers of games officiated by Jaz at Army and G.A.A. levels, are of immense numbers. A local North Cork publication reported in 2005, that 62 years old Jaz had refereed 137 matches throughout 2004 at schools, colleges and G.A.A. competitions. This remarkable contribution to the sporting welfare of youth is worthy of special attention.
- In Ireland’s largest G.A.A.county, Jaz Cummins the referee, became one of Cork’s most respected and long serving officials with the whistle, and his refereeing CV includes serving his own division of Avondhue with great distinction. At Cork county levels, numerous high profile matches across all grades, including senior competitions incorporating county finals, were all under the microscope of the Glanworth official.
Ladies Football Had a Real Commander and Leader
- The versatility of Jaz had no G.A.A. boundaries and in his own parish of Glanworth, and also at Cork inter county levels, the code of Ladies Football took on an extraordinary special role with the former Army athlete.
- In a historic decision at local level in Glanworth in 1984, a delegation of local ladies requested Jaz to consider harnessing the clubs upcoming future ladies footballers. Stipulating that he would oblige by commencing with nurturing and training the clubs under 14 girls, it can be reliably recorded, that the numerous successes and honours achieved by the Glanworth Ladies footballers, were truly the realisation of sporting dreams turning to gold.
- The girls and ladies under the command of Jaz Cummins, kept on achieving new horizons across all grades of Cork Ladies football, culminating in national titles and All Star awards.
- To further enhance the development of Cork ladies football, Jaz extended his boundary duties to incorporate management of the Cork senior squad, at a time when Cork ladies football were not walking up the steps of Croke Park to collect championship silverware. That would come later, but the seeds and scent of achieving major titles, were firmly planted during Jaz’s tenure.
- A roll call of the silverware won by Cork ladies under his command, include 2 National Football League titles; One All Ireland Under 16 title; One Minor All Ireland title and two Runners-up All Ireland ‘B’ titles.
- The stream of developments at Glanworth ladies resulted in numerous women representing Cork on the inter county fields, winning national titles and also All Star awards, all under the watchful command of Jaz Cummins.
- In ladies football, Cork wrote their own historic records in the 21st century and won a succession of All Ireland senior football titles and laid down a marker for future generations of upcoming ladies footballers.
- The sporting name of Jaz. Cummins of Glanworth renown is of the fervour and passion that Michael Cusack envisaged in 1884. No ivory towers, no ego chasers and no exclusions to the grassroots members and players, who are now deprived in the 21st century, of playing the game they love best, in the most desired months of the G.A.A. season.
- The achievements of Jaz Cummins are now recorded at the All Ireland Hall of Fame Online Gallery and a brief summary epitomises why such an acclaimed sportsman is worthy of local, national and international acclaim as a purely amateur athlete.
- Jaz Cummins Achievements Make Impressive Stats
- 32 Cork County Championship Victories In Various Grades:
- 6 Senior; 6 Under 21; 7 Minor; 6 Under 16; 5 Under 14 and 2 Under 12 titles
- 3 Munster Junior Club Championships are also recorded.
- Synopsis of a collection of refereeing assignments include 3 Avondhu Junior ‘A’ Football Finals;
3 Under 21 Avondhu Under 21 ‘A’ Football Championship Finals; Cork County Intermediate Football Final; Cork County Junior ‘A’ Football Finals in succession..1993/94/95; Numerous Cork Senior Football and Hurling Championship Matches; Prominent referee at all under age grades in Avondhu and Cork County.
- Maintaining fitness for longevity in refereeing: In the course of Jaz taking on so much refereeing duties, a high level of natural fitness was always a top priority. A daily 5 mile run around the perimeter of Glanworth’s pitch, followed on by a series of strenuous exercises, was par for the course for many years.
- No referee can officiate without a loyal and willing team of reliable volunteers and Jaz had his own long serving network of officials and mentions including Willie Browne; Owen McAuliffe; Mossie O’Connell; John Kelly; Patsy Cummins; Seán and Daithí Pierce and Gah Aherne were all part of a remarkable team of G.A.A. officials assisting Jaz.
- Other notable Achievements include:
Trainer to Ballyclough, Co. Cork, junior ‘A’ football team in 1980; Trainer to Ballylanders, Co. Limerick; Trainer to Blackrock (Kilfinnane) Co.Limerick and also to Castletownroche; Shanballymore and Castlemartyr of the Imokilly division.
- On the field of play Jaz represented his club with the Avondhu divisional senior football team for 10 years and also won an All Ireland Junior Football medal with Cork in 1972.
- Jaz Cummins of Glanworth: Exceptional Athlete, Player, Trainer and Selector
- Online Tribute composed by Derry JF Doody @ All Ireland Hall of Fame Online Gallery