Graham Cummins: Late winners are great as a player but not as a reporter

Former Cork City striker on the move from the pitch to the press box
Graham Cummins: Late winners are great as a player but not as a reporter

Cork City's Graham Cummins is congratulated by Greg O'Halloran and Gearoid Morrisey and fans after scoring the winning goal against Shels in 2011. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

I ALWAYS thought that it was the players who felt the most pressure when it came to matches, but having written my first match report on the Treaty United and Cork City game last weekend, my opinion has changed.

Of course, I’m going to be a bit biased and say that the pressure of reporting on a game is more intense than playing in one, now that I’ve switched roles from a player to a journalist, but honestly, last Friday, I’ve never felt pressure like the pressure I experienced when I was playing in games.

It’s said that it’s difficult to replicate the feeling a player gets after winning a game and that when a player retires, he will never experience the high of scoring a winning goal, but I’m not so sure that is true now.

I’ve been writing weekly columns and other little bits since 2016, but City’s game last week was the first time I’ve ever had to write a match report live.

With my columns and analysis of games, there isn’t too much pressure because I’ve time to prepare them and meet the deadline. That’s not the case with match reports, which must be submitted moments after the final whistle.

So, when it came to making that deadline and seeing my report online moments after the final whistle, I did get a similar feeling, while driving home, that I used to get walking away from stadiums having scored a goal and won a match as a player.

My most memorable goal is my 94th-minute winner against Shelbourne for City in 2011. Knowing now what last-minute goals do to a journalist, I must apologise to anyone under pressure on their deadline that night.

As a fan, we love seeing last-minute winners or equalisers but for journalists reporting on games, they are their worst nightmare.

I had my report ready to be submitted with five minutes to go in the game last weekend but had City equalised, it would have changed the complexity of the report and I would have had to make adjustments to more than just the scoreline. 

And just because there is a last-minute goal and the report needs to be changed doesn’t mean the deadline changes.

Other similarities in being a player and reporter were not being able to sleep after games, which I had hoped wouldn’t be the case.

HARD CALLS 

The most difficult part of my career change has been assessing my former team-mates.

It’s not easy to write negatively about players I shared a dressing room with and would consider to be my friend. It’s awkward bumping into them at games when I’ve criticised them for their performances.

It’s never nice for anyone to read something negative being written about them, whether it’s true or not, but I have to be honest and fair in my assessment. As a player, I always felt that I was honest enough about my own performances.

I knew when I had a good or poor game, so it didn’t affect me what someone else thought of my performances. I didn’t need somebody writing that I had a poor game for me to think I’ve played bad.

SUBJECTIVE

I never took that personally, and I would hope players do the same for me now that I’m on the other side.

Interviewing the manager after the game was new to me as well. It can’t be easy for managers to have to talk to the press moments after their team has suffered a defeat.

Ideally, they would want time to reflect on the game and perhaps do the interview the next day.

Again, because I know him, I did feel awkward interviewing City manager Colin Healy after the game because I could see how hurt he was by the defeat.

I must give managers credit because it's not easy going to talk to the media after defeat and some managers shy away from it, sending their assistant instead.

No matter what you do, whether it’s your first goal or first day back in school, it’s always a great feeling to get the first one out of the way and hopefully I will be writing about a City win the next time.

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