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Richie Hogan - 'If you'd told me this was going to happen I wouldn't really have believed it'

Moving to midfield was never something the Kilkenny hurler had envisaged.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I NEVER EXPECTED to be playing out there, to be honest. I’d never really played out there before in my life, never in any grade.”

Richie Hogan may have been unaccustomed to a midfield position but he found it so much to his liking this summer that he ended up being crowned ‘Hurler of the Year’.

Hogan has admitted his incredible season came about more by accident than design. Back in early spring, the live wire forward was just returning from a lengthy injury lay-off and merely focusing on contributing to Kilkenny’s attack again.

But a terrible start to their Allianz league encounter with Tipperary in February forced manager Brian Cody to think outside the box and introduce Hogan at midfield.

The switch was such a success that Kilkenny came from 10 down to beat Tipp – a winning habit they would continue all season.

“I was always somewhere in the forwards between centre-forward and full-forward in all grades. I don’t know, if you’d told me this was going to happen I wouldn’t really have believed it. I always pictured myself as a forward.

“But, look, I suppose the way hurling has gone, you need the same attributes now in every position.”

Richie Hogan Richie Hogan in Croke Park yesterday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Liberty Insurance GAA National Games Development Conference yesterday, Hogan recalled the exact moment Cody turned him into a midfielder.

“I’d been out for 10 or 12 weeks with a cartilage problem in my knee,” continued Hogan.

“I missed all the early stuff and it was my first day back on the panel and we were losing by 10 points or so to Tipp.

“At half-time they switched things around, put Lester Ryan back from midfield to centre-back and literally called my name out for midfield. I was never told or asked to do anything in particular, just go out and play away for the second-half.”

Richie Hogan and Anne Ryan Richie Hogan and Aine Ryan at this year's Allstar awards Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Just when Hogan was beginning to feel like the main man in the middle, however, he was moved back to centre-forward for the All-Ireland final replay.

He scored Kilkenny’s first two points but was eventually taken off with 13 minutes to go. The experience taught Hogan that he can take nothing for granted heading into the new season.

“You can’t really get carried away,” said Hogan. “We have seen in the last couple of years, for many years actually, that lads have had a good season and then when the next year comes around they start a bit slow and are replaced by someone else. It happens very easily so you have to be wary of things like that.”

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Paul Keane

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