Rebel, Rebel, let's go out tonight
Despite a hectic playing schedule, and studying for a degree in strength and conditioning, Dual Cork GAA star Eoin Cadogan is relishing the night run challenge
It's thought that a GAA football player can cover distances of up to 14k in the course of a 70-minute game. You'd think that a 10k event would be a mere walk in the park for Eoin Cadogan, who is a rising star in not one but two sports. Sure enough, the Cork man is looking forward to April's Samsung Night Run . . . albeit with the tiniest amount of trepidation.
"In our sport we cover distances, but we'd be much more used to running 100 or 200m in quick interval runs," he explains. "Hopefully I'll be able to pace myself, to set a time for myself in advance and base (the night) off that. The advice I'm saying to people ahead of this run is to have a goal in your head, don't go there disorganised. Know where you should or shouldn't be at, and make sure that you train five or six weeks in advance. I keep saying that slow and steady wins the race, which doesn't often work in our sport."
The singular mindset of an athlete is also new to him: "In team sports, you have a lot of determined individuals who have to work alongside others to be successful. This will be a very different environment . . . athletes have to be a bit more selfish and focus on themselves to get everything right. But, on the other hand, it can be easier as you can control everything within yourself."
While Eoin will take to the streets of Cork for the Night Run, his GAA comrade Michael Darragh MacAuley (from the Dublin team) will instead be running through the capital. They're rivals on the pitch, of course . . . what about on the mean streets of Cork and Dublin?
"There is definitely some rivalry in the amount of numbers signed up for each city . . . I think Dublin is slightly ahead," he smiles. "The Cork route is a really nice one. It's not often you get to see Patrick's Street closed off at night, and I think it'll probably be quite a relaxing night for everyone."
Eoin Cadogan is looking forward to the night run
While running enthusiasts will be gearing up for the 10k, it's safe to assume that dual player Eoin also knows a thing or two about gruelling training sessions. As one of the few GAA stars to be on both the senior inter-county football and hurling team, he juggles the commitments of two leagues. It's a spectacular feat, given that many sportsmen only manage to thrive in one. The big question, of course, is why? He sighs in a way that suggests he's been asked this . . . a lot.
"I think the only people that get worked up and excited about it are people in the media," he shrugs. "At the end of the day, it's an amateur sport and you're not there for a long time. Who knows, I might not get the opportunity to play next year, or the following year, and I'll be sitting above in the stands just watching for long enough. Last year, when I was injured, I got an impression of what it's like when you've retired, looking in from the outside at training and matches. It's a frustrating time. For the sake of a year or two, I don't see why I shouldn't give (hurling and football) a go."
Looking back at his young years in Douglas, it soon becomes clear that the child significantly explains the man.
"When I started off playing, I wasn't brilliant at either football or hurling," he recalls. "I was on the under-12 C team; not because of huge numbers, but because that's where I deserved to be.
"I was a poor footballer at that age, and I was only slightly better at hurling. But I got huge support from my family to keep persisting and then, you start to get on the team a bit more, then you get regular matches, and before you know it you're getting trials.
"I came a long way through persistence and stubbornness to progress the whole way up to the teams," he adds. "In one code, it's a dream come true, but when another team invites you in to play because you're good enough, it's a huge compliment and not one you can turn your nose up at easily."
Eoin Cadogan in his home county
Ironically, Eoin has realised that his decision to concentrate solely on football last year was detrimental. After a good football year in 2012, he heeded advice from others about picking up injuries in hurling, and briefly opted out of the latter. He now believes that 2013 was a poor year for him as a footballer, and is more determined than ever to play both codes. Happily, his respective managers – hurling gaffer Jimmy Barry-Murphy and football boss Brian Cuthbert – are only too happy to 'share' him.
"As you can imagine, it's a pretty hectic schedule," he reflects. "Looking at the month of March, it's five or six weeks in a row, which is pretty demanding. In saying that, I've gone back to college now, which is a bit of a help, in that you probably get a bit more down time for recovery on the Monday mornings after a game."
Earlier this month, however, former Wexford hurling manager Liam Griffin questioned the ability of dual stars to combine the codes, citing increased pressure and the demands of competitions.
Says Eoin: "Liam has been hugely successful in his time and, well . . . at the end of the day, managers are selfish about their athletes. If you're in hurling, you'll want your guy to play hurling only. I'm sure his opinion is right from where he's coming from, but I'm lucky that both my managers are very accommodating.
"The thing is, people forget that this is essentially a hobby," he adds. "This is something you're supposed to enjoy. If you're too serious about it, you shouldn't be doing it."
Proving that he has an eye firmly trained on the future, Eoin is adding another string to his bow by training as a strength/conditioning coach.
He's the latest in a string of sportspeople to explore this avenue: Dublin GAA star Brian Cullen found work with the Leinster rugby team after qualifying as a coach. Elsewhere, rugby players Jerry Flannery and Johnny O'Connor have trained up in strength/conditioning at Arsenal FC's academy.
Eoin Cadogan in league action for Cork against Eoghan O’Gara of Dublin. Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE
"I'm studying for a degree at Setanta College," explains Eoin. "I thought, 'what better way to make a living than doing something you enjoy and getting the most out of people?'"
In a rather neat coincidence, Eoin's girlfriend Julie Davis – herself a former 400m hurdler – is a trained strength/conditioning coach, currently working with the Armagh GAA team.
Referring to the fringe benefits of having a girlfriend with similar interests, Eoin says that it can be a help and a hindrance.
"You're often being reminded to eat more healthily, and sometimes strength/conditioning people have different ideas on how to train, but it's about helping each other and learning off each other," he notes.
On his Twitter page, Eoin describes himself as an "opinionated straight talker"; perhaps a career in commentary or punditry beckons, too?
"Shooting from the hip doesn't sit well with people," he says. "If I've had a s*** game, I'd prefer someone being honest with me and saying so."
He also, somehow, finds the time to tweet regularly to his 18,700-odd followers . . . and has learnt to block out the 'constructive input' from overly enthusiastic fans.
"If you have a poor game you'll have to listen to the thunder," he notes.
"There's no getting away from it, so you have to be extremely strong-minded about it. Once you've given a game your best shot it should be water off a duck's back.
"After all, most of the people who criticise you would love to be in your shoes."
The Samsung Night Run takes place at 9pm on Sunday, April 27. For more information and to register see www.samsungnightrun.com