Cork’s Eoin Cadogan among the last of a dying breed

Dual-star says playing both codes ‘not sustainable anymore’ as he focuses on hurling

“Yeah, and I’m thinking of playing rugby next year,” says Eoin Cadogan, gently mocking his constant switching between Cork football and Cork hurling over the last decade, and the challenges that came with it.

Some seasons Cadogan played one, others both: for 2018 he’s playing hurling only and beyond that nothing else is certain – except that he was probably one of the last dual players at senior intercounty level. It’s simply not possible anymore.

“At this moment in time, my football days are over,” says Cadogan. “At 31, I couldn’t necessarily see myself going anywhere else. I don’t want to think too far ahead because there’s so much going on between your club and county.

“Younger guys mightn’t take as long to recover as what I do at the moment, but it’s probably not sustainable anymore, because the demands are getting higher. In terms of more games, obviously. And still the same amount of training to get ready for those games.


“The easiest part now will be actually playing those games because there will be less training and there will be more recovery. But no, I don’t think it’s sustainable to play both.”

That, he suggests, includes the likes of Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan, even if he wanted to. Not that Cadogan has any regrets about playing both codes, even if sometimes thwarted by the modern limitations of that dual mandate. His one and still only All-Ireland came in 2010, playing full back with a team of Cork footballers that looked set to dominate for a while, only to soon fall from the top table.

“I’d probably say that some of the best performances I gave was actually when I was a dual player. Say 2009, ’10, ’11, ‘13, Cork were reaching All-Ireland semi-final stages in both codes, at different times as well as All-Ireland finals. I certainly wouldn’t look back and say that hindered my performance. You were playing against the best teams at the latter, latter stages of the championship, and I don’t think it hindered my performance.

“And I would have lost out on making a lot of friends within my own county, within other counties. I had an opportunity to play in All-Ireland finals in football and play in All-Ireland semi-finals with Seán óg ó hAilpín, Donal óg Cuasck, Graham Canty, Nicholas Murphy, in both codes. So no, I wouldn’t change that.”

Speaking at the launch of John West Féile na nGael competitions, Cadogan says his decision to play hurling only for 2018 wasn’t just based on the obvious: yes, Cork football fell further away from the top table last season, while the hurlers won a Munster title, but there were other factors too, especially with younger brother Alan also now so central to the hurling team.

“I didn’t have full control of it, because management have changed and ultimately they make the decision as to who they want in their squad or not. At 31, I was delighted to be given an opportunity to be involved in either squad, so it was a difficult enough decision, but it’s something I’m comfortable with and happy with.

“Alan being involved also, and being involved in the latter stages of my career. I hadn’t fully committed to hurling really throughout my career whereas the last couple of years it’s been all football. It was as good a time as any to commit to it and see where I was at.”

A qualified strength and conditioning coach, having previously worked with the Cork under-21 hurlers and also the Armagh senior hurlers, Cadogan now works at the Apple headquarters in Cork, in the company wellness centre, which caters for some 5,500 employees. Given the demands of the new round-robin Munster hurling championship, he has already booked holiday time into the early parts of the season.

“I know I’ve put time off for those three Mondays. It means a lot to me, I want to win, want to go out and be able to say I did everything I could, did everything I could to be in a position to contribute to the group and if that means taking some holiday time on a Monday, so be it.

“I’m definitely not going out with the idea of ‘oh I’m only going out to play two games’ or even if I am going to be picked to play, we have to break it down into segments and moments and the first moment it’s going to be Clare in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. For the whole group the first game is going to be number one focus, then park it whether you win or lose and move on.”

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics