Cork’s Eoin Cadogan says decision to put hurling career behind him was difficult
Defender is back to full fitness and looking to get off to a winning start against Limerick
Cork’s Eoin Cadogan: “Last year, probably, my football year went a little bit better, and that was one of the reasons why I would have picked it.”
Eoin Cadogan has admitted an element of selfishness about committing solely to Cork football this summer, although that actually means doing more training – “if that makes any sense”.
Either way the first test of Cadogan’s sole versus former dual status comes with Saturday evening’s Munster football quarter-final against Limerick: he’s careful to list the full variety of reasons for putting his hurling career behind him, most likely indefinitely, although it wasn’t necessarily on the assumption that football presents the better chance of silverware.
“It was difficult,” he says, “not just for yourself, but for the group of lads you played with. Last year, probably, my football year went a little bit better, and that was one of the reasons why I would have picked it.
“There’s also a side to it where you just have to be selfish in your own approach. It’s a pretty tough schedule, when you’re playing both. Although in saying that I’m probably doing more training this year, if that makes any sense. There’s no skiving off football training on Tuesday night, because you’ve played a hurling game on Sunday.
“So you’re actually probably training harder, or committing more to it. I always found, when you were playing the two of them, you might have a poor game in hurling, then park it, because you’re focusing say on football the following week. It’s a different focus, a different mentality, a different group. You’re going to have highs and lows when you’re playing both and it’s a good way, maybe, of mixing and matching it.”
What didn’t influence his decision, insists Cadogan, was the admission of Cork hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy that any dual player in the county would see football now as offering the better chance for success (for in the past the opposite almost always rang true); nor was Cadogan in any way influenced by the somewhat unceremonious exit of players such as Donal Óg Cusack.
Unlikely to return
It possibly helped that dual under-21 standout Damien Cahalane has done likewise, now committed to football too. Yet at 26 Cadogan admits too that it’s unlikely he’ll ever return to hurling.
“It’s difficult to say that, but I always said it was week by week, when I was playing both, because you have a different focus, always changing. But I still feel I have a lot of things I need to improve on as a footballer, and I don’t think that’s going to change over the next couple of years.”
Indeed he’s happy just to be playing against Limerick on Saturday, having missed the tail end of Cork’s league campaign with an Achilles tendon strain. Now back to full fitness, the intention to get off to a winning start is clear, as is the knowledge Limerick can’t be underestimated.
“Going to Limerick is always a tight battle, and we’ve had encounters when maybe we didn’t deserve to get the win. They’ve John Galvin back, a huge influence in the middle of the field, and probably what makes them tick.”
Cadogan is not unduly worried about Cork’s indifferent league campaign – after winning three titles in succession. The loss of Colm O’Neill definitely weakens their hand, but he believes Cork still have the depth, and versatility, to take on the best. “I think the modern game has changed over the last couple of years. Anyone who says different is kidding themselves. You see teams that go orthodox, go man for man, get cleaned out.
“You saw the space that was created by Cavan on Sunday. So you’re on a path to disaster, especially being left in a full-back line, with that amount of space. Then look at Donegal last year, with the amount of men back, it’s very hard to get goals with that many bodies in front of goal.
“We’ve a different way ourselves. We’d like to think we’re adaptable in our approach, can play in whatever style Conor Counihan requires of us on any given day. But one person’s style might work one day and not the next. Over the last couple of years, there have been completely different styles of play, with teams that have won it. Different ways and different demeanours. And I think it is going to be constantly moving forward.”
He’s admits too that an extended break in Australia last autumn – where he got to train alongside the likes Setanta Ó hAilpín – renewed and reinforced his appetite for hard training: “The conditioning sessions they had, on Saturday mornings, were two and a half hours. Now, I was on a holiday as well, and they were in pre-season, but I wasn’t found at the very back of the field, with my tongue hanging out.
“Endurance was their main thing, but I’d love to see a couple of Gaelic guys going over, in the middle of the summer, to see how they fare.”