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Hurler of the Year takes inspiration from a Cavan handballer

Richie Hogan is amazed at the level of commitment world champion Paul Brady puts in.

Hogan was a keen handballer in his younger days.
Hogan was a keen handballer in his younger days.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

LAST YEAR’S HURLER of the Year Richie Hogan has admitted that he takes pleasure from seeing athletes dominate particular sports, much like how Kilkenny have managed to dominate hurling since the turn of the millennium.

The Danesfort clubman says that he enjoys seeing the likes of Rory McIlroy, and Tiger Woods before him, dominating their sport. He also cited four-in-a-row world champion handballer Paul Brady as a particular source of inspiration.

“From a personal point of view I follow lads who are really dominant. The likes of Tiger Woods, McIlroy and a fella – I don’t know if you know him or not – Paul Brady, the Irish handballer who has dominated his sport for 12 years,” he said.

“That’s something I would completely understand. I would never talk to any of these lads but I would watch their matches, see the focus that they have, the savage hunger and
determination they have to win another one, which is amazing.”

Paul Brady Paul Brady in action in the 2012 World Handball Championships' final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Hogan was a talented handball player at underage level, winning world championships and playing in America, before giving up to focus on hurling. He sees former Cavan footballer as an inspiration to players trying to play two different sports.

“He would be an example of a lad who is 34, 35 and he’s won so much yet I still see him drive from Cavan to DCU to go to the gym because it’s the best gym around him,” he said.

That’s the sort of stuff he does. That’s what separates these guys from the average guys. It’s things like that.

“He’s won 10 All-Ireland doubles, 10 All-Ireland singles, four world championships in a row – the first Irish man to win one, never mind four, but you see what he puts into it. Endless, endless, endless hours of work.”

Richie Hogan celebrates scoring the first goal of the game Hogan scored the opening goal as Kilkenny crushed Wexford two weeks ago. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Despite his underage success, Hogan doesn’t regret swapping the ball alley for the hurling field, and admits the culture in Kilkenny means that he was never likely to pursue a career in handball.

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“I won a lot of underage tournaments, world championships, but would never have even played senior because by the time I got serious with the hurling I had to pack the other one in.”

I played a lot of in America growing up (to minor) but it was never an option for me to do any other sport other than the one I had. It’s just the tradition of living in Kilkenny. If I lived in another county, maybe.

The midfielder insists that his handball skills have translated into his hurling game and has made him a better player, with hand-eye coordination being a huge aspect in both sports.

Asked if it helped his hurling, Hogan said, “Oh, God yeah, with the speed of the ball coming at you. The ball is maybe flicked [from] close range, your hand-eye coordination is so much better. I play a bit during the off-season just to keep fit.”

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