Back in February, Eoin Cadogan said his piece. Frustrated, the usually mild-mannered dual player spared his chest of a gripe on Twitter.
He posted: “Pisses me off the price of the healthy options in service stations like fruit bowls, salads & then you can pick up s*** food for half price.”
In Dublin that day, he hadn’t eaten as well as he would have liked and after turning the car for Cork had stopped to grab a bite, only to be left disappointed.
“When you’re training hard you have to be eating well and coming down the road and pulling into a petrol station you can pick up a coffee, a muffin, a chocolate bar for nothing yet you go for a salad or a fruit pot and it’s €5 or €6. I don’t know, are we trying to promote the wrong things? You’d like to think you’re promoting healthy living more so than eating a muffin. Unfortunately, there are a lot of reps calling in and as a nation it’s about taking the easy option instead of going with something better for you.”
Ulster Rugby’s strength and conditioning coach, Cork native Kevin Geary, had no sympathy for Cadogan, advising him he had “failed to prepare” and should have organised pre-packed meals.
“He was dead right,” says the Douglas man. “I have actually started doing that if I know I’m being tied up for the day.”
Studying a strength and conditioning course via Setanta College, it’s not just leading the life of a dual player that has given Cadogan a deeper appreciation of how he fuels himself with food.
“You’re always looking for an edge, in the sense you’re trying to better yourself all of the time. I wasn’t necessarily eating all the bad things, but I mightn’t have picked the right option to facilitate the amount of training I was doing. I definitely notice the difference in the amount of energy I have. I just made better lifestyle changes. A lot of people might ask you what you’re doing differently and you’d tell them and they might say that’s a bit extreme. But if they actually tried it for a week or two they’d realise it’s just another way of life.
“It’s the same way you might get up early in the morning instead of later in the day. Because you’re involved in sport, it’s easier to apply yourself.”
Cadogan has no beef with the GAA’s sponsorship deals such as Cadbury as U21 level and Croke Park’s affiliation with Guinness on match days.
“It’s not the sponsor’s fault. It’s about the person making the right decision. If I ask you do you want a pint of something you’ll make the decision whether you want it or not.”
He takes supplements, which he does so safe in the knowledge they have been tested and approved as well as endorsed by his respective coaches.
“I don’t think from a drug-testing point of view that it’s ever a protein that will catch lads out. Especially for the younger guys coming in, the bigger concern is if somebody gets sick and takes something and fails a drugs test. It’s about educating these guys. We’re lucky our medical team have all educated our guys. We just have to trust the people supplying us.”
Cadogan enjoyed some time in Australia with Greater Western Sydney Giants conditioning coach and former Cavan footballer Nicholas Walsh at the start of 2012. The lifestyle appealed to him, as did the sunshine. “If you completely take the professional aspect out of it, and look at the normal working man’s day it starts earlier because the weather is good. Because of the weather, everyone is in better form. That has a huge part to do with it.”
Australia is where a lot of the “high fat, low carbs” diet endorsements are coming from at the moment. As he says, Cadogan is always looking towards ways of making advances but sticks to a generally simple approach.
“When I speak about lifestyle choices I go back to the basics like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and getting the right food. There’s nothing scientific about it. I recorded what I was eating at the start of the year. When we were re-tested from a fitness point of view, skinfolds, all these things, there was a reduction. So when you see these reductions, you persist with doing it.
“I’m not a robot, I don’t live in this type of world where I’m not realistic that you don’t need a blowout. Everybody needs a blowout now and again. It’s important that you do have something, in the sense that you can try and maintain it but there comes a point then when it becomes a bore. It’s like a reward.
“But you have to look to the edge because the standards have risen so much since I came in, in 2007. While they were quite high back then, expectations of players have raised, as have the standards of training. The intensity of the game has raised and the standard of football and hurling has got higher and higher. If you’re not willing to better yourself all of the time, there’s going to be some young guy coming up behind you or the guy you’re marking is going to go to town on you. I always try to better myself but I’ll do things wrong and I’ll do things right.”
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