Graham Cummins on what it’s like being marked by Virgil Van Dijk


LOI Arena is the new podcast about the League of Ireland and Irish football from Con Murphy, Conan Byrne and Pundit Arena.

On the twelfth episode of LOI Arena, former Cork City striker Graham Cummins joined the lads to talk about his move into journalism, his strong dislike for training and an eventful few years in the Scottish Premiership with St Johnstone.

Graham Cummins.

This week’s guest was retired League of Ireland striker Graham Cummins. The 33 year-old made more than one hundred appearences for Cork City and also played for the likes of Cobh Ramblers, Waterford United and Preston North End before moving to Scotland in 2015.

Cummins hung up his boots last season after returning to the SSE Airtricity League and recently started writing a column for the Irish Examiner.

Unafraid to voice his opinion, the Corkman’s articles always make for interesting reading and as it turns out, he’s every bit as interesting to listen to.

On Episode #12 of LOI Arena Graham shared brilliant stories about being wrongly investigated for match-fixing, severly disliking training and playing against Celtic and Rangers in the Scottish Premiership.

You can sign up and listen to the full episode here or listen on Spotify later in the week.

Graham Cummins on scoring against Rangers for St Johnstone.

Scoring against Rangers at Ibrox is a dream for many Irish football players and Graham Cummins made it become his reality.

In December 2017, Cummins came off the bench to score in St Johnstone’s 3-1 win against the Scottish giants and the back-story behind the strike makes it even better.

That goal will be engraved in the striker’s memory for the rest of his days but according to Graham, a poorly-timed toilet break very nearly cost him his golden moment.

“It’s actually something my wife often picked up on,” said the former striker and central-defender.

“Saying ‘you must go to the toilet so many times’ and I think Stephen McPhail, when I was at Rovers, said ‘me and Glen [Crowe] were just counting how much times you go to the toilet during games – it’s unbelievable!’

“It was Rangers away so I knew I was gone [from the club at that point] anyway. You go in sometimes as well and you check your phone like.

“People don’t realise you just want to see the scores in the other games. You’re bored because of sitting on the bench so I was just in the toilet and I can’t even remember who ran in and said ‘the manager wants you!’

“We were beating Rangers at the time and he came out and roared at me ‘what’s this?!’. So I just came straight on and managed to score straight away like!

“It was unbelievable really but like for me as I said, I always seemed to go [to the bathrooom] because you drink so much water the day of a game or the day leading up to the game and if you’re not playing then you’re not running it off and it’s more down to boredom then just sitting on a bench.

“That was the story behind that but [it was a] good night afterwards. Like I said, at the time I knew I was over so I didn’t really expect to come on. I had already agreed that I was dead and buried at the club basically.”

Graham Cummins on being marked by Virgil Van Dijk.

On the other side of Glasgow, Cummins had somewhat of a tougher time – as would any striker up against the incredible Virgil Van Dijk.

Liverpool super-star Van Dijk played for Celtic between 2013 and 2015 and when St Johnstone came up against the Dutch defender Cummins was left in awe of his talent.

The Corkman describes Van Dijk as the biggest player he has ever seen and was also taken aback by some charismatic trash-talk during their encounter.

“To be fair when I wrote that about him actually saying ‘don’t bother I’m too good’ before the first sprint, I didn’t just make that up!

“And to be fair, he was that good because our team-talk in the dressing room was like ‘right, you’re the attacker but everytime he gets the ball, just defend for your life like’

“All the lads were telling me how good he was, this and that, and I was like ‘he can’t be that good, you’d swear he was Messi or Ronaldo’ – but he was in Scotland like, he was unbelievable.

“I couldn’t believe, what’s really impressed me about his career, is that he plays the exact same way as he did that day. He struts around, he strolls and he doesn’t look to get out of second gear.

“That doesn’t make me look half as bad then because I never sprinted as hard in my life, I’d say my two hamstrings were about to tear and there’s your man just walking to the ball.

“I wouldn’t have even wanted to get into some kind of wrestling match with him because he is the biggest player I’ve ever seen.

“He is massive and I’m just surprised he doesn’t score more goals from set-pieces because all we were thinking was ‘he’s going to score from every corner here'”

LOI Arena.

LOI Arena is the new home for great League of Ireland discussion. Each week Con and Conan will take to the mic to analyse the highs and lows from the Greatest League in the World. The lads are joined by great guests each week who share a passion for all things LOI and Irish Football.

Episode 10 of LOI Arena is available to listen to here.

The podcast is part of a new membership offering from Pundit Arena that focuses on Irish soccer fans for just €3.99 per month, less than a euro per week.

You can also follow the show on Twitter and contact us via email at

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