CUMMINS Sports answered an SOS for sliotars from Vietnam recently, when Cork man Kevin Collins reached out in a bid to satisfy his two sons’ love of hurling.
Kevin’s family is immersed in GAA. His father Kieran Collins used to cycle from his home in Railway Cottages on Dublin Hill to play for Delaney Rovers.
Despite their strong Delaneys GAA connections, Kevin and his brother Paul opted to play for Blarney, the home club of his mother.
Kieran’s grandchildren have gone further afield to play GAA, playing their hurling on the banks of the Saigon River in Vietnam, all of 10,709km from the windy heights of Kilbarry as the crow flies.
Their last two sliotars, unfortunately, landed in the river, which prompted Kevin’s email to Cummins Sports for their All-Star sliotars.
Cummins Sports director, Áine Cummins, said her initial reaction after she received an emailed order from Vietnam was one of disbelief.
“I thought ‘twas an April Fool prank”, Áine laughed. “Sliotars for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam! Yeah, right.”
A quick check on the internet, however, proved the order was genuine. The prospective customer by the name of Kevin Collins was well-known to Cummins Sports staff as a former sports rep who called regularly to their stores in the early noughties.
Kevin’s journey to Vietnam has been interesting, to say the least. After giving up his job in Cork, he decided to travel the world.
“I got as far as New Zealand where I lost my heart to a Kiwi girl, Tiana.”
Kevin had been working for Adidas in New Zealand and they tempted him with the offer of a position in Singapore, where he spent two years before being offered the chance to move to the USA.
By this time Kevin and Tiana had two sons in tow and, after two years in the States, Adidas offered Kieran the opportunity to move to their operation in Vietnam.
The Collins family loves the lifestyle in Vietnam.
“It is an exciting, vibrant place to live and work,” said Kevin.
Kevin’s sons, Fionn (8) and Oisín (5), “I got the naming rights”, Kevin said, attend the local school where their PE teacher is a Kilkenny woman and a fanatical hurling fan.
Kevin is determined to ensure his two sons grow up with a love of GAA and a strong appreciation of their Cork identity.
“Our kids are half Irish and half Kiwi. We try to keep a strong connection with their roots. Both boys love hurling and they’ve both been sent Cork and Blarney GAA gear by my family.
“They proudly wear it as we hurl on the banks of the Saigon River. Our last two All-Star sliotars however went sailing into the depths of the river,” which promoted the email back to Cork looking for a fresh supply of sliotars.
Cummins Sports were glad to help Kevin’s request and they added in a few surprises for the Collins family.
Áine Cummins said they sent back a lovely hamper full of traditional Cork memorabilia.
“We couldn’t just send a half dozen sliotars on their own. We packed in two Cork GAA jerseys for Fionn and Oisín, a copy of The Echo, a box of Barry’s tea and a bar of Ó Conaill’s chocolate.
“If that doesn’t cause Kevin Collins to break down and cry with the nostalgia of it all then the man has a heart of stone,” she added.