Richie Hogan rises to the occasion with majestic display

Listen, it’s no secret. We all know Richie Hogan is a phenomenon.

The Danesfort man is no more than 5’ 7” tall and yet he stands apart from almost every other hurler in the country.

You wouldn’t be able to see him if he stood in the middle of a bunch of third-years and yet he plucks balls out of the sky with ease and grace.

Current Hurler of the Year, two-time All Star, multiple medal winner. We know all that. It had reached the stage, in fact, where we may have been taking his brilliance for granted.

And then he went and scored five points yesterday.

Not a bad haul in any All-Ireland semi-final, but a startling effort from a man who, by his own admission, could hardly walk as late as Friday.

Even Brian Cody, a guy not known for exaggeration on such matters, admitted Hogan was in serious trouble last week.

Turns out he suffered a prolapsed disc in his back while training last week. Oh, and he damaged a couple of joints while he was at it.

Got a few injections, did a bit of physio, but still wasn’t giving himself much hope of being fit by Friday.

“In the last week, I’ve been going to physio every day, sometimes twice a day, getting needles, injections, cortisone injections that sort of stuff, just to get ready.

“You only have a certain amount of games in the year and you want to play them all.”

There was, at least, no need for an injection yesterday and he got through the game — all 70 minutes of it — free of pain, some early stiffness aside.

The pay-off may yet come today and throughout the week, but it isn’t something that will require surgery later on. For now, he can reflect on a job well done.

“We opened up on about 50 minutes. We started using the ball a bit more cleverly, (before) we were kind of launching it in and thinking that if we had a chance to score, we had to take it. Otherwise we’d be bottled up, which wasn’t the case.

“Once we kind of saw past that, we got the scores we needed, from about the 45th minute to about 60 minutes, when it was most important. That’s when they took over in the last couple of games.”

With the minors drawing yesterday, the likelihood is that the round of county championship fixtures pencilled in for Sunday will be postponed which, if nothing else, should allow Hogan the chance to put his feet up and take in the second semi-final.

“Of course we will (take in Galway v Tipperary). We’ll definitely watch it anyway. We’ve played Galway already and we’re familiar enough with Tipperary. It’s not going to be easy, no matter who it is. It’s kind of an impossible one to call because they’re both in flying form.”

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