CORK BROTHERS ALAN and Eoin Cadogan have enjoyed some playful battles over the past few years trying to convince each other to play with either the footballers or the hurlers.
The siblings are proficient in both, with Eoin winning an All-Ireland as a defender for the Cork footballers in 2010.
Alan was just 16 when he looked on at that dramatic one-point win over Down and says that his brother’s achievement offered him a platform to go on and prosper in his own sporting career.
Some gentle attempts at persuasion have gone down between the two over the years to get each other playing one code or the other. Eoin has often tried to encourage his younger brother to join him with the footballers, while Alan wanted Eoin to play the small ball game for Cork.
Alan finally won the war this year, and after spending some time focusing on inter-county football, Eoin has returned to the Cork hurlers for the first time since his last outing in 2014.
In truth, the pair didn’t have too many discussions about their plans for the year ahead during the winter months, and Eoin admitted last April that returning to the hurlers at 31 was ‘a bit of a risk.’
Alan, however, was delighted to hear his brother was throwing his lot into hurling for Cork.
“Eoin’s at an age where he has maybe another two or three years at the top level,” Cadogan said.
“Knowing Eoin, he loves a challenge and there’s huge competition for places there.
He’s not just coming in to make up the numbers. He knows that himself and he’ll be pushing hard for a starting place. It’s great to have him back and it’s nice to have a bit of company going to training.
“Eoin has been around the block, he won an All-Ireland in 2010 when he was my age, 24. He just felt that he kind of wanted to give hurling a go. He could never actually full focus on hurling because he was balancing both of them.
“I didn’t try to persuade him, I left it up to himself. It’s just great to have him.”
He continued: ‘We’re reasonably close. He’d guide me on and off the field a lot over the last couple of years. When I was younger, he probably introduced me to the training environment and what it took – being 16, 17 and what it took to be an inter-county footballer and hurler.
“We kind of learned from that and he took me under his wing in certain aspects both on and off the field. As I said, it’s great to have him involved this year.”
The dual sport dilemma is a common feature in Cork GAA which has been further complicated by the long tradition of players excelling in both codes.
Jimmy Barry Murphy, Rena Buckley, Briege Corkery and Teddy McCarthy are among the most famous Cork figures to have won Celtic Crosses in hurling/camogie and football.
Eoin is one of the last survivors of the dual player community who was able to balance playing both codes, but the increased training demands in GAA forced him to pick one.
Alan previously played U21 football for Cork, but as he prepares to turn 25 next week, he knows that he has to be selfish about his priorities and forget about any desire to follow his brother’s example in the senior ranks.
“I’m kind of in my peak years now, the years don’t be long going, said the Rochestown College teacher.
“The dual thing is a common enough thing down in Cork because so many can play both hurling and football. I can’t see it being a thing this year or the next couple of years. Fellas just have pick one.
I’d always encourage kids to play as much hurling and football, especially with their club.
“I think it’s possible at [inter-county] minor and under-21 to play both but because the game is constantly changing, you have the new format this year, the level of intensity, the preparation, the professionalism of the is increasing another 10 or 15 per cent over the last two or three years.
“I just don’t think it’s an option anymore to play hurling and football.”
Cork’s Munster championship campaign commences this Sunday with a first-round tie against Clare in Páirc Uí Chaoimh [Throw-in 4pm].
The home fixture will be a repeat of last year’s Munster final, but it is preceded by a disappointing league campaign for the Rebels in which John Meyler’s charges managed to avoid relegation to Division 1B after a composed victory over Waterford.
Overall though, Cadogan says his side are pleased with how they performed in the league and how they used the games to introduce new talent to the big stage, as well as help further develop other players who made their championship debuts last year.
The new round-robin format might present new challenges for Cork, but the end goal remains the same.
“Last year was a very good year under Kieran Kingston but that’s done and dusted,” explains Cadogan. “We were Munster champions last year but we’re not dwelling on that. It’s a completely new format this year. It’s a new year, we have a new management team.
“The league probably didn’t go to plan. Every team’s goal is to get to a league final and build from that for championship.
The Munster Championship is hugely competitive. I don’t think you can pick your top three teams. You’re playing four games in five weeks.
“We have two home games and then two away games but we’re not looking past Clare. It’s a game we’re looking forward to. They’ll out looking for a bit of redemption after last year’s Munster final.”
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