Soccer-Cummings focused on celebrations as Mariners squad faces break-up

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Argentina v Australia - Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - December 3, 2022 Australia's Jason Cummings (left) and Mitchell Duke during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Molly Darlington/File Photo

(Reuters) - Central Coast Mariners' hat-trick hero Jason Cummings declined to be drawn on his future plans after his goals delivered the club's first A-League championship in a decade, with success also likely to lead to the break-up of Nick Montgomery's team.

The Australia international revealed in the build-up to the 6-1 thrashing of A-League premiers Melbourne City that Saturday's final at Parramatta Stadium would be his "last dance" with the Mariners, 18 months after joining the club.

But while the Scottish-born forward's contract is due to expire at the end of June, Cummings stressed his immediate intention was to celebrate the Mariners' first title since 2013.

"Everyone knows how much this club means to me," Cummings said.

"I was in a stage in my career, Dundee let me go and (Montgomery) gave me an opportunity at the Mariners and the last year-and-a-half have just been a dream come true.

"I need to enjoy the moment now, go back with the boys and enjoy it with my family and the fans. And then we'll see what happens."

Cummings' career has been turned around since his move to Central Coast and he will be among members of the championship-winning squad to be courted by wealthier outfits in Australia and elsewhere over the coming weeks.

Mariners operate on one of the A-League's smallest budgets and Montgomery acknowledged that Cummings was unlikely to be the only departure.

"We're a selling club, the club needs to sell players to survive," he said.

"I've no doubt we're going to get offers and the quality of players on show tonight, nobody can doubt the value of that squad. But that wasn't there at the beginning of the season.

"If we lose them, that's football. We'll bring in new players. I'm sure the phone's going to be going for the chairman in the next couple of weeks."

The possible departures include Montgomery, who has seen his stock rise after overcoming significant financial limitations to end the Mariners' trophy drought.

"The world's his oyster," Cummings said of Montgomery, who took over at the Mariners' two years ago. "He's the best manager I've worked under.

"I've had a lot of clubs, he's the best tactically on the training field, as a person his man-management is different class. He's young as a manager and he can go to the top level."

(Reporting by Michael Church; editing by Robert Birsel)

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