One of the most popular players ever to wear the Glen and Cork jersey. Small in stature but huge in ability and drive He was a player who always played with a smile on his face, just loving to be out there competing against the best backs of that time.
McGrath has just the one All-Ireland senior medal from 1999 when Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s management skills inspired a great victory over a far more fancied Kilkenny team.
The Glen went through a lean period during his time in the jersey and as a consequence, he did not win a county senior medal.
However, his skill and talent were spotted at a very young age and he became a Cork minor at 17 before making the move up to U21. During an illustrious career, he won three Munster medals, a national league medal and was also an All-Star.
McGrath was also recognised by the Munster Railway Cup selectors and he has a couple of medals from those selections.
One of his main attributes was his great pace, getting away from a defender and securing a score.
He was a handful for any opposing wing-back, Clare’s Anthony Daly among them and in that All-Ireland victory of 1999 he made a big contribution, particularly in the final 10 minutes.
He has since been a Glen and Cork selector and more recently he has become a very accomplished pundit on thematch streaming service.
Of course, he made a significant contribution too during his university days with UCC. He won two medals with the great Western Road academy and in the 1998 final against WIT he was named man of the match after scoring 1-4 from left half-forward.
When his senior career with the Glen ended he dropped down to play junior and, in fact, won a city division medal in that grade.
Without doubt, he rarely failed to deliver when the big questions were posed.
IN 2000, the GAA announced the selection of hurling and football Teams of the Millennium.
Three Cork men were named on the hurling side – Jack Lynch, Christy Ring and Ray Cummins.
Apart from Offaly’s Brian Whelahan, the Blackrock man had the most recent All-Irelands on the team, having won Liam MacCarthy with Cork in 1970, 1976 (as captain), 1977 and 1978. Of course, he was also unique among those chosen in that he was the holder of an All-Ireland football medal from 1973 and his selection on both All-Star teams in 1971 is something that will never be equalled, we can say with almost complete certainty.
A dual Munster minor medal winner in 1966, Cummins would go on to enjoy success in the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cups with UCC – he also won county hurling and football medals with the college – and was part of the successful Cork U21 sides in 1968 and 1969.
It was in 1969 that he made his senior championship debut, as a sub in the Munster final win over Tipperary, and his full debut came in the final against Kilkenny. While that game ended in defeat, Cork and Cummins were back a year later, seeing off Wexford to regain the All-Ireland and defeating New York after a two-legged national league final to claim a double.
From there, he was in Croke Park almost every year, either with the hurlers or footballers – it wasn’t until 1980 that he failed to pick up a provincial medal in either code.
Two national hurling league medals were added before the first of what would become the three in a row, with Cummins – captain after Blackrock’s county win the previous year – kicking the winning point against Wexford in the All-Ireland final of 1976. The presence of his brother Brendan on the team made it all the sweeter for the family, who by this stage had established a sports shop that would go on to become the leading chain in the county.
The medals continued to come for Ray, with Cork adding the hurling All-Irelands of 1977 and 1978. His ninth Munster senior hurling medal, 12th in all, came in 1982 as Cork hammered Waterford – his sporting decision to opt for a late point rather than a facile goal earned widespread plaudits. Unfortunately, though, there would be no further All-Ireland to add as Cork lost that year’s All-Ireland final to Kilkenny in what proved to be his last game. By the time of his retirement, he had won five All-Stars, two in football and three in hurling.
With Blackrock, there were five county and Munster titles and three All-Irelands, his last success in green and gold coming in 1979.
A full-forward in 1982 was far different to one from 1970 – they were more dynamic and versatile, able to create as well as score – and he was the chief reason for that.