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Eoin Cadogan makes up for lost time on international stage

Cork defender has waited for a while to get his chance after first being called up in 2011

Eoin Cadogan during Ireland training at the Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne ahead of the 2017 International Rules series. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

For someone who has been so prominent for so long, Eoin Cadogan’s arrival on the international stage seems to have been relatively recent but he was in fact first called up for the series six years ago.

“I probably didn’t get enough game-time in 2011,” he explains to the media in Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium after Wednesday’s Ireland training session. “It was probably more an experience than anything else. In 2015, I felt a lot more comfortable playing and even with my knowledge of the game. This year, two years on, it’s great to be back out here again and involved in another series.”

One of the last players to follow the Cork dual tradition, he decided three years ago to concentrate again on football and his performance in the Croke Park test a year later made him an obvious call-up this time around. He’s also had a connection with Australia through his friendship with former Cavan footballer Nicholas Walsh, who’s now a coach with AFL club Great Western Sydney.

“In 2012, I came back out here again, stayed and watched some of the GWS’ pre-season. I had gone back into college doing a BSc in strength and conditioning and since then have graduated. I actually got a greater appreciation for what professional sport looked like in terms of recovery and the volume (of work) these guys are doing.

“I think the modern GAA athlete has gone very much towards the AFL player in the sense that they’re covering massive distances and fellas aren’t as bulky and are a lot leaner. From 2011 to now, my weight has dropped way down and I’m moving a lot better for it, really.”

Disappointing

The pinnacle of his career was winning the All-Ireland football with Cork seven years ago and the interim has been disappointing for the county and personally, as injuries have disrupted his playing career. Now 31, the international series affords him an opportunity to get involved at the highest level.

“It’s great to be involved with different lads from different counties. The reality is it’s rare you’re going to be in these guys’ company other than playing against them and that’s in a very competitive environment. To come out here and represent your country is a massive honour.

“This is my third series and considering I had a difficult enough year in terms of injuries it was great to get a call and the last six or seven weeks has been massive in the sense that you really feel that your football is coming on because the training is very enjoyable. It’s all kicking. It’s brilliant.”

He also likes the certainty of the tackle in the international game and thinks that it also gives players the opportunity to think for themselves.

“That’s good for players to have to play off instinct and play with their mind. You can see the way the modern game has gone, there’s a huge amount of structural positioning in Gaelic football now. Any sort of defensive structure can nearly become ingrained in you, where if you make a mark here, you have to make the decision. You can kick it or run it but you need to take the best option possible.”