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'He's outrageously skillful' - Kilkenny captain hails Hogan's bouncebackability

The 2014 Hurler of the Year inspired the Cats to a late Leinster final comeback win.

KILKENNY CAPTAIN COLIN Fennelly has hailed Richie Hogan after the Cats star’s inspiring supersub role in their Leinster SHC final win over Galway.

gaa-hurling-all-ireland-senior-championship-series-national-launch Colin Fennelly. Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

2014 Hurler of the Year Hogan was sprung from the bench in the 44th minute, and he was central to the Noresiders’ comeback as Brian Cody’s men produced a stunning victory at Croke Park.

Hogan finished up with 1-2 en route to getting his hands on the Bob O’Keeffe Cup for the first time since 2016, his goal an outrageous piece of skill in particular.

His glittering cameo also marked a happy return to HQ, 15 months after he was sent off in Kilkenny’s All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary. A redemption story made all the more sweeter by his return to full fitness after a period of persistent injury woes.

“Last year, he was going from game to game and struggling probably with injuries,” Fennelly said at the  GAA Hurling All-Ireland Series National Launch.

“This year I’m not sure if the break did him good. He’s in every training session now and you can see that from the match the other day, any ball he got near, his movement was absolutely excellent. The goal he created was unbelievable.

“To have him there as an option to come off the bench is unbelievable. He changed the game on Saturday, everybody seen that and it’s great to see that recognition.

“Last year, I thought he had a good year for Kilkenny and it was just clouded by that final. I don’t think there was much in it but it was just clouded by that for such a player.

“A lot of players probably would have maybe hung up the boots at 32, 33 after all the injuries. It takes a lot of guts for him to come back and still to be on the bench and come on to do what he does. He’s just an amazing player.”

richie-hogan Richie Hogan. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A fully-fit and in-form Hogan is a huge boost to Kilkenny, and Fennelly agrees that that was best seen through his marvellous goal.

It left many wondering why the Danesfort man isn’t starting, Fennelly included, whose position in the forward line is now in danger after his 51st-minute removal.

“He’s outrageously skillful. The things you see him doing in training, you wonder how he’s not playing.

“But there’s loads of lads in training you’re wondering how they’re not playing, and that’s probably a good thing for Kilkenny that we have that at the moment that there’s serious competition for places.

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“Brian Cody has that option that he has Richie Hogan to come off the bench to change the game. He’s a completely different player to some of us and it’s a huge turning point in a game.

“You see when he came on against Dublin as well, he was unfortunate for two scores. If he was to get those two scores, and normally he would, he would have changed that game as well.”

Provincial silverware was hugely important for the county, Fennelly agrees. It ends a long wait, by Kilkenny’s standards, for Leinster championship glory, and also avoids three decider defeats in-a-row.

And it comes as a huge confidence boost going forward into the All-Ireland semi-final in two weeks’ time.

“It was massive. I think it’s five years since we actually won a Leinster and All-Ireland.

“We’ve been so close over the last five years and as time goes on, if it keeps on going all of a shot you could be another few years away from it. If you let them chances slip by, it could be another few while before it happens.

richie-hogan-celebrates-with-colin-fennelly Hogan and Fennelly in 2011. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It was very important from getting to the final last year and getting to the final this year, to get a win this year was huge. I know we won the league last year which was huge but to get a Leinster back in our pocket was a good achievement for us and a good stepping stone going forward towards the All-Ireland.”

And now all focus switches to the last four, where Fennelly will be looking to redeem himself. The two-week break will certainly help especially given the tough nature of week on week hurling at club level through the summer.

“We’ll have probably Wednesday and Saturday of good hurling sessions in and for players like me who didn’t have a good game at the weekend, I can follow up with trying to get my form back in training,” the Ballyhale Shamrocks man concluded.

“Whereas if we were playing this weekend again I wouldn’t have that opportunity and it’s the same for other players as well.

And for those players who were in form at the weekend they want to brush on their skills too and it gives you that break for guys like Richie Hogan who need that time just to recover. It’s a huge advantage as well.”

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