Six years on from a baptism of fire, it’s safe to say Eoin Cadogan is a more content figure heading into his third International Rules Series.
In 2011, he was used sparingly by Anthony Tohill across the two tests and by the end of it was slightly disillusioned.
He marked a successful return to the game under Joe Kernan two years ago and despite a 2017 season beset by an Achilles heel injury, he returns to Oz in an Ireland jersey confident in his abilities.
“I probably didn’t get enough game-time in 2011. 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.
“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.”
Given his only championship appearance for Cork this year came in the extra-time fourth round qualifier defeat to Mayo in the Gaelic Grounds, there are few fresher men that will lace their boots in Adelaide this Sunday.
“When you’re getting injured there it’s hugely frustrating and you’re doing everything right, your eating, your sleeping, and then the next thing you might break down or whatever the case might be. I’m lucky that I haven’t had any type of injury since April and I got back to my club and obviously played the last game against Mayo and played a lot of club championship games.
“When you get a small bit older you can get the tag of being injury-prone all of the time, which isn’t necessarily the case this year. I just got a bad run. The body is feeling great.”
That he has a fellow Douglas clubman for company in young footballer of the year nominee Seán Powter makes it all the more appealing.
“He epitomises the type of energy a young fella brings to a panel. He’s ballsy, he goes for everything and that was reflected in his performance for Cork this year. He played like a guy with no shackles on and since he came in Joe (Kernan) and the lads have been really impressed with him.
“I’m delighted, it’s brilliant to have two guys from the same club in it. I’m rooming with him, I don’t know who’s minding who. It’s great.”
Cadogan’s love of International Rules expands from the need to be “touch-tight” on his marker to the tackle itself.
“From a defensive point of view, if you’re not close enough to your man and your guy catches it, it’s a score more or less around the full-back line. You have to defend one-on-one. Two years ago, the Aussies put one and two inside and weren’t afraid to pump ball in and you have to back yourself. Even the tackle, I love it. There is a definition to what the tackle is whereas there isn’t necessarily (in Gaelic football). It can vary depending on your interpretation.
“In Gaelic football any sort of defensive structure can be engrained in you whereas here you get the mark and you need to make the decision for the team not necessarily anybody else. You’d worry if the game (of Gaelic football) is now more about players being worried about making mistakes rather than just going out and playing off the cuff.”
His knowledge of the AFL scene is augmented by his friendship with former Cavan footballer and Greater Western Sydney coach Nicholas Walsh with whom he spent time in New South Wales five years ago.
“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.”
Even if Cork face another season in Division 2, the former dual star looks towards 2018 with relish. “The older you get, the wiser you get in terms of what shape you need to be getting back into. Even talking to the likes of Pearce (Hanley) and Zach (Tuohy), they would give the insight that it’s nearly 12 months a year. You don’t want to leave yourself go. The less the conditioning you’re going to have to carry, the easier it is to get back into the shape you need to. With the league being brought forward and different kind of structures, you really need to hit the ground running.”
And another Douglas man in the shape of Ronan McCarthy will be at the helm. “Ronan has obviously a very good track record with Conor Counihan and Brian Cuthbert and he has gone back to the club scene and won county titles. Ronan is a big football man and it’s great to see another Douglas man in charge of Cork having had Kieran Kingston with the hurlers.”
Grand day for it! The Ireland International Rules team had their recovery session today at St. Kilda's Beach, Victoria, Australia. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson . . . #niceday #weather #sun #sunny #sunshine #Ireland #InternationalRules #Australia #GAA #sport #football #StKildasBeach #stkilda #stkildabeach #Victoria #inpho #potd #photo #pic #photooftheday #sunnydays #sunlight #light #sky #sunrays #bright #brightsun
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