THE OBVIOUS question for one of the busiest men in the GAA has nothing to do with playing senior football and hurling for Cork.
With all the training and matches, does Eoin Cadogan ever get to go out?
“Oh yeah,” he says. “I brought herself to the movies the other night. Avatar. It wasn’t bad, but you wouldn’t want to try hurling or football with those 3D glasses.”
Well, it’s got to be hard not to relate everything to that dual commitment.
Cadogan has been held up as the last of the dual breed, but he’s anxious to acknowledge his managers’ willingness to accommodate each other.
“I spoke to Denis (Walsh) and Conor (Counihan) and there’s good communication between them and me, and nobody’s putting pressure on me either way.
“It seems to be working out so far – it might get a bit hectic later in the league but we’ll see about that then. We’ll give it a lash as long as possible and see how it goes.
“Nothing’s set in stone but they’re very good, in fairness. Obviously they would have played together for years, and Denis juggled the two sports for a good while himself so he’ll know where I’m coming from.
“If it gets to a stage where I feel I’m too tired or my performances are lacking either in hurling or football, I’ll say it – there’s no point in falling between two stools and not making either team, maybe.”
Fair enough, that’s the theory. The practical side of things takes a bit of juggling.
“The hurlers train Monday and Thursday and the footballers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There’s a football league game this weekend, so I’ll do a hurling session Monday, football Tuesday and Thursday, then travel Saturday to Monaghan with the lads for the football game.
“It’s not too bad. I get a few alley sessions in as well – you can’t expect to just pick up a hurley and your touch will be there, you’ve to be doing a small bit extra all the time.”
That’s the training. The match schedule?
“So, this weekend we have Monaghan in football, away. The following week its Kerry at home in Pairc Ui Rinn. The week after that is Offaly in hurling and after that it’s Limerick in hurling, I think.”
Does it help he’s a defender in both codes? “Well, if you saw my shooting skills you’d know it wasn’t much of a choice...”
It could be worse. Cadogan qualified as an electrician recently so he’s out of Sigerson and Fitzgibbon action, having picked up Fitzgibbon Cup medal with LIT. He’s full of praise for his college manager, Davy Fitzgerald, adding that the lessons weren’t confined to the classroom while he was there, as he describes Fitzgibbon hurling as “definitely a step up” from intercounty U21.
He admitted: “It’s great experience to have before you play senior intercounty yourself.”
True, though not everybody has the headache of choosing which intercounty team they’ll play for. Cadogan plays down his ability as an underage player, though he admits he considered packing in football in his mid-teens as he didn’t feel he was progressing in the code. A county U16 title with the big ball changed his mind, however, and life as a dual county minor duly followed.
In 2008 he got a run against Dublin in the hurling championship, but he says playing Tipperary in Thurles last summer in the Munster championship was on a different level. He and Conor O’Sullivan were two-thirds of an inexperienced full-back line, but they survived, and Cadogan pocketed the man-of-the-match award.
“I didn’t think about how experienced we were or not. I thought we were a tightly-knit group, and whether you’re there three weeks or three years it doesn’t matter. Donal Óg was a huge help, with his experience, and that made a huge difference. But there’s no point in saying that was a great championship game or whatever, we just have to start afresh this year and drive it on.”
Against Galway in the qualifiers Cadogan attracted some criticism for being caught in no-man’s-land for the Tribesmen’s crucial goal.
“If you make a mistake at intercounty level you’re going to be punished – it’s as simple as that. Whether it’s a slip or a misjudgement, you’ll suffer.
“You have to learn from it; there’s no point in me dwelling on something that happened last year. If I did, I wouldn’t be going into the next game in a positive frame of mind. I’m concentrating on the future.”
He wasn’t long dwelling on that Galway defeat. Two days later Conor Counihan rang and invited him down to play in a challenge game against Limerick. From there he was back on the panel which made it to the All-Ireland final. It was an abrupt transition: did he feel under pressure to absorb the tactical demands of playing with the footballers after a summer with a hurley in his hand?
“Every team comes at you with their own tactics, but we only worry about ourselves and getting ourselves right. In every game you have to look at your opponents and how they play but getting your own approach, your own position right is the main thing.
“There’s so much tactics now that even if you’re the full-back you could find yourself out around midfield being taken for a run, so you have to make decisions that you think are right in that moment. If that means going in to corner-back for a few minutes or out the field somewhere, so be it. I’d be a fairly relaxed character anyway. I’d take it all in. But come the game you’ve got to drive it on.”
Is this the worst part of the year, the onslaught of league games? Will the championship, with its breaks between matches, be easier to handle? “I’m not even looking that far ahead,” he says. “I’m only worrying about this week! “My attitude is, I’m 23, I’m relatively fit, I don’t see any harm in giving it a lash. Nobody will be able to come up to me in 10 years and say I should have given it a go.”
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