GOAL-GETTER: Niall Cummins celebrates scoring for Marine against Tadcaster Albion in March. Picture: Shutter Press
By John Lyons
Experienced striker Niall Cummins bagged the FotMob NPL Step 4 Player of the Year accolade – and believes he can get even better!
The 33-year-old target man bagged 19 goals as Marine challenged for promotion from the NPL North West Division before Covid-19 shunted the season off the rails.
That haul was even more impressive bearing in mind that Cummins was battling to get back to his sharpest after breaking his ankle while on loan with the Mariners in their failed attempt to maintain their Premier Division status the previous season.
The Isle of Man-born ace told The NLP: “We were flying when I broke my ankle and our form dipped a bit after that, so I felt I owed the club something. My deal at Curzon Ashton came to an end and the (Marine) manager Neil Young said he wanted me to return and that he’d make me captain.
“It was difficult with the ankle. I was desperate to be fit and play, but there were weeks when I did limited training. If we were two or three-up in a game, Neil would take me off and I was getting medical attention all the time. I didn’t get to the heights I would have liked so I was over the moon to get 19 league goals.”
Now the former Burscough forward is aiming to show Mariners fans what he can really do next season.
“With the signings we’re making, my improved fitness and ankle healing, there’s a lot to look forward to,” said the high school PE teacher.
— Marine Football Club (@MarineAFC) June 21, 2020
“If they play to my strengths with the pace of the signings around me, it’s more promising for me. I didn’t realise how big the club was until I joined and I’m really excited by our prospects.
“A lot of managers and players talk about promotion, but our sole aim has to be that. We have to take it game by game. Our younger players are a year older, they know what it’s all about now. It will be a difficult league – players are dropping down – but I think we’ll be fine.”
Former Chester manager Young is delighted to have Cummins at his disposal. “I made it a priority to sign him and made him skipper because he’s a consummate professional,” he told The NLP.
“We are a young team in the main and he’s a role model. He’s not a screamer and shouter, but he’s an example with his conduct and how he looks after himself.
“Considering we had to manage him a little bit last season because of his ankle, his goal record is phenomenal.”
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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & Shutter Press