Eoin Cadogan: Cork footballers always unloved

First things first: Eoin Cadogan can’t wait for the Tipperary game.

A frustrated onlooker in Fraher Field last Saturday night, the Douglas man is finally over an Achilles issue and hasn’t been at all put off by the difficulties Cork’s footballers experienced in accounting for a Division Four Waterford side in the Munster quarter-final.

Or all the opprobrium heaped on them since.

“As much as the negativity is out there, I can’t wait to get back training because we have Tipp at home in two weeks’ time,” he said.

“They are going to be there as favourites, they are not going to be shaking in their boots, but I am looking forward to it whatever that throws up.”

Cadogan is in feisty form and the interview is much the better for it. He’s been serving with the county footballers for the bones of 10 years now and he’s clearly had it up to the gills with the negativity that has attached itself to their collective fortunes, through times good, bad and indifferent.

When Cork were winning three successive National Football Leagues, and an All-Ireland title in 2010, they were listening to claims they should have been winning more. Or winning better. With more style. That’s how it seemed to Cadogan then.

“Well, there never has been any love,” he explained at an eir Sport launch in Dublin. “It’s not there from a media perspective. As I said, it was never good enough under (Conor) Counihan. ‘Counihan didn’t do this’ or whatever the case may be.”

Not all the jabs have been thrown from newsrooms. Cork, as he says himself, is “a funny place”. Munster Rugby, Cork City and the two senior men’s GAA sides are all vying for attention and applause and the footballers have always found it hardest to earn both.

The hurlers, it seems, find forgiveness much more forthcoming.

“Do you think?” he asks with a smile. “I would say so, yeah. Hurling is a good game. A centre-back can catch a ball above his head in hurling and lump it over his shoulder. Imagine a centre-back in football catching it and kicking it as far as he could: he will be taken off.”

None of which is to say that he begrudges the hurlers, his brother Alan included, their success against Tipperary earlier this month. If anything, their win spurred on Peadar Healy’s troops who, Cadogan is adamant, have left no stone unturned over the last few months.

He has no quibble with the criticism over the game in Dungarvan over the weekend. Yes, Waterford were ultra- defensive and disciplined but he adds quickly that Cork did themselves no favours. Ill- discipline was one area of disappointment singled out. What he does believe, though, is that a switch is itching to be flicked.

It’s just two summers, after all, since they were a whisker away from beating Kerry in a Munster final in Killarney. It is tempting to look back on that drawn game, and the defeat that followed, and wonder what would be different now had Fionn Fitzgerald not claimed that equaliser.

“I’ve no doubt things would be different because we would have gone into an All-Ireland quarter-final with a Munster medal in our back pocket. Like, ultimately, I know I keep making reference to performance and stuff like that and it can sound clichéd, but you’re going out to win.

“Anyone who plays at inter-county level or club level, you don’t go out just for the sake of ‘let’s go out and perform, lads’. You go out to win. You go out to try and win silverware. That’s why you’re busting your balls seven nights a week, recovering, eating well, not socialising.

“And then when your performance doesn’t reflect that, or you’re just scraping over the line, it can be extremely frustrating.

“I’ve this thing in my head, that the frustration is just going to erupt at some stage and we’re just going to go out and we’re just going to blitz someone at some stage. When that happens I don’t know but it’s like poking a dog. Keep poking him …”

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