Hogan fit and ready to face Tipperary


GAVIN CUMMISKEYtalks to Kilkenny’s towering centre back about his injury battle and the team’s determination to learn from the defeat to Galway

BRIAN HOGAN has declared himself fit to start for Kilkenny in Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final against Tipperary.

The powerful centre back burst a blood vessel in his leg playing for his club O’Loughlin Gaels last month and missed the quarter-final victory over Limerick.

Hogan returned to training last week.

“It bled out,” he explained. “I thought it was a dead leg, turned out it was a lot more serious. I woke up the following morning and it was the size of my quad.

“I just remember the leg getting sore with about 10 minutes to go. Thought it was a standard dead leg. Iced it, woke up the following morning and was in serious trouble. Went into the medics and it was a judgement call, they could open the leg but then you’re gone for the year.

“A specialist looked at it and you could be talking skin grafts and this kind of thing or you could just basically try and ride out the pain and hopefully there’s no, you know, you can get compartment , there’s loads of stuff that can potentially go with it.

“It’s fine, it’s settled down.”

The 31-year-old is a valuable addition to Brian Cody’s starting line-up, to be named Friday, especially considering the loss of the suspended Richie Hogan for a match-up that has contested the last three All-Ireland finals.

The younger Hogan, 24, received a straight red card for striking Limerick’s Seán Tobin on July 29th. TJ Reid is expected to be a direct replacement in the forwards with Kieran Joyce to make way as Brian Hogan returns at number six.

“It’s a fairly ruthless kind of old environment,” said Hogan about being injured.

“As I found out, when you’re injured, it’s ‘good luck’. With the best will in the world, like, back in 2010 when I missed the All-Ireland final the lads had a job to do, getting ready for an All-Ireland. You don’t expect them coming up patting you on the back going, ‘Are you all right?’ They have their own jobs to do getting ready for the All-Ireland. Your job is just to stay out of the way.”

Hogan was asked yesterday about Cody’s decision to shut the gates of Nowlan Park for Kilkenny training sessions since the heavy defeat to Galway in the Leinster final. Turns out the players had grown frustrated with the “circus” atmosphere in the main stand when they were trying to work.

“The players are very happy with it because you’re not getting this round of applause when a back clears the ball or when Henry scores a goal, which is grand as well, and, fine, I understand that people want to go in and watch it. But at the same time it’s a bit artificial. You get Spanish students coming in and they’re all roaring and bawling at the back of the stand. It’s a bit ridiculous. It can get to be a bit of a circus. You don’t need that.

“Brian’s very much up for promoting hurling, getting kids in to watch it,” Hogan continued, “But when the performances dipped, we didn’t really perform as we’d have liked against Galway, that was disappointing, and I suppose he just wanted a bit of, you know, quiet time.

“Obviously you’ll have the rumour mill going into overdrive that the likes of the elder statesmen can’t get in to watch training and they’re saying ‘they must be killing each other in there’. It’s just to kind of get the work done and not have the rigmarole that goes with it.”

The Leinster final against Galway was Hogan’s first championship defeat since his Kilkenny debut against Wexford in 2004 so it is safe to presume that training has become more fierce since the gates were closed.

“I won’t take anything away from Galway. They were outstanding, they hit the ground running and they never looked back. It was coming. We had beaten them in the last few years, beat them in the league too, so they were going to come back with something big and they did.

“We can’t control what Galway bring to the table, we can only control what we bring to the table and what we brought wasn’t good enough. Individually and collectively, we weren’t happy with how we hurled. We went back to the drawing board, much like the league final the year before against Dublin.

“Look, it’s not nice losing and losing in that manner – being beaten all over the field – was very disappointing.

“We knew they were coming for war and we didn’t have ourselves right. That’s disappointing, we’re long enough on the road to know that and we’re not a young team.”

Warfare resumes on Sunday.

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