Forward-looking Alan Cadogan has little appetite to deal with ‘what ifs’ of last year’s semi-final

Oscar Wilde wrote that no man is rich enough to buy back his past and, when it comes to reflecting on last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, Alan Cadogan has no plans to.

That’s nothing to do with the modest salary of a schoolteacher, but more the psychological need to park the Cork hurlers’ late-game collapse before they ride into the 2018 championship in Sunday’s clash with Clare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Having led by two points inside the final quarter in Croke Park last August, the wheels fell off soon after Damien Cahalane’s red card, Waterford knifing them for 2-2 in just four minutes, before running out 11-point winners. What might have been for Cork?

“If, if, if we didn’t get the red card,” says Cadogan, in no mood to deal in hypotheticals.

I can’t remember the score when the red card happened, but we were beaten comprehensively in the end. We could have no complaints.

It was a painful end to a promising year, one in which Kieran Kingston’s men lifted the Munster title, despite a line of doubters forecasting their demise.

“We [beat] Tipperary and a lot of people said it was a fluke, we [beat] Waterford and a lot of people said it was a fluke, we played Clare and people said we were lucky to win a Munster title. Obviously, we were beaten [in the All- Ireland semi-final] by Waterford, a better team, but it was a positive year. Kieran brought us to a new level and we’re trying to go from last year to this year. It’s a new structure and all we’re focused on is the first game against Clare.”

John Meyler graduated from selector to manager in the wake of Kingston’s departure last October and Cadogan believes his background with the U21s will prove invaluable.

“There were seven or eight U21s last year involved now in the senior panel so the transition was very good and he knows the players inside out.

“He has huge experience at club level, inter-county level and the [transition] was fairly seamless.”

There are other positives, too; such as the full-time commitment of Cadogan’s older brother Eoin to the hurlers. Having tried the dual life himself, Alan is in the same camp as his brother in believing it’s no longer sustainable at the top level.

“I’ll put it this way, I’m 25 and I’m at an age where this is your peak. The years don’t be long going and the dual thing is ruled out. The game’s after changing over the last two or three years, the speed of it, the recovery is shortened.”

He still plays both for Douglas, though, a habit he has no plan to kick.

“Everywhere I go, I always tell young kids to play hurling and football and nothing drives me as mad as seeing people at club level choosing one over the other. Inter- county is different, a lot tougher on the body, but I love playing hurling and playing football with Douglas and I’ll continue to do so.”

In recent months, he’s helped Eoin re-adjust to the finesse of the small ball and, though Alan remains a doubt for Sunday with a knee injury, he feels his brother is ready to showcase his ability.

“There’s no fear of Eoin. He likes a challenge and he’s not coming back to make up the numbers. He knows he’s not guaranteed a place, but he’s enjoying his hurling and that’s the main thing.”

In their last clash with Clare, in February, Cork slumped to a four-point defeat, but the true line of form is best drawn from last year’s Munster final, where Cork ran out five-point winners.

So what does Cadogan expect from the Banner men this Sunday?

“Intensity,” he says.

Cork and Clare have had a great rivalry over the years. Last year’s Munster final will be in the back of their head; they’ll be looking for a small bit of redemption and revenge, but both teams won’t be looking past that game. They’re a very, very good side, extremely skilful, fast, young, energetic.

Cork will have a seven-day turnaround before facing Tipp in Thurles, and Cadogan, a geography and business teacher at Rochestown College, is counting down the days to his summer holidays on June 1, the day before they welcome Limerick. With the revised Munster Championship structure, he figures he’ll need all the recovery he can get.

“The format is great, but you could have a player that picks up a hamstring injury and they’re out for three or four weeks. Then, if things go against you, your season is over. In previous years, it was an 18-man game, but now it’s a 30-man game. I can see people taking the Monday off work, because you see how intense championship games are; fellas can’t even walk or get out of bed on the Monday.”

As for Munster, Cadogan believes it’s as much of a lottery as ever.

“Any team could finish first, second or third,” he says. “There’s going to be a surprise somewhere along the way. We’re going into the unknown and we’re looking forward to it.”

Alan Cadogan was speaking at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy summer of hurling.

Cork MHC team to play Clare (Sunday, 2pm): Cian Long (Glen Rovers); Christian Murphy (Midleton), Padraic Cullinane (Ballinascarthy), Cian O Donovan (Sarsfields); Cormac O’Brien (Newtownshandrum), Luke Horgan (Glen Rovers), Cillian O Donovan (Douglas); Olan Broderick (Killeagh), Paul Cooney (Ballincollig); Kevin Moynihan (Na Piarsaigh), Shane Barrett (Blarney), Daniel Hogan (Sarsfields), Padraig Power (Blarney), Paddy O’Flynn (Bride Rovers) ,Evan Murphy (Glen Rovers).

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