'I'm not worried by what people think or say'
Published 29/07/2011 | 05:00
In the last year, Eoin Cadogan got an iPhone. He had never been into gadgets or social media but he decided to open up a Twitter account out of curiosity. Part of that was because he'd heard that the soccer player Robbie Savage was regularly torn to shreds on the social network site.
"The abuse he gets is scandalous, but he takes it all on the chin," says Cadogan.
Cadogan certainly isn't the Irish version of Savage, but he soon discovered that he was often a focal point for similar abuse and rantings, with vitriol dripping off the screen. "Bad stuff written about me?" he asks. "Absolutely."
His philosophy, though, is straight out of the Savage mentality. "If you were to listen to every comment you wouldn't get out of bed in the morning," he says.
"No matter who you are, there is going to be a perception of every individual. I know some people have a certain perception of me but I'd like to be considered as a player who goes out and gives his all for both codes, as opposed to somebody who goes out and gets involved with other players. That's not the way I want to be perceived."
There's no doubt that Cadogan plays on the edge. His aggressive streak, which has seen him wage running battles with opponents -- especially Kerry's Paul Galvin -- has been a common trend throughout his career. It has left him wide open to public scrutiny and exposed him to the wrath of opposing supporters. Cadogan, though, has another interpretation of those actions which have inflated that perception.
"I might come across as a bit animated at times but you'd like to think that's a bit of passion and fire inside you. If you don't have that I don't think you'd go anywhere. I go out to do my best, I never go out to get involved with lads.
"Getting sent off is non-negotiable, it can't happen because you're letting yourself and everyone else down and it's not fair on them. It's something I'm very conscious off but it's a learning curve throughout."
Over the last couple of years, no other player has ridden that roller-coaster more than Cadogan. Although sports science and conventional wisdom have arrived at the conclusion that the dual player's existence is no longer viable, that is the life Cadogan has lived and it's the life he loves.
Last year, he played All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals within the space of two weeks. This year, his schedule ran at the same pace until the hurlers were knocked out by Galway three weeks ago, just six days after the footballers lost in the Munster final.
Cadogan didn't start in the Kerry match and the day afterwards, former Cork player Niall Cahalane wrote that it was because he was being compromised by his dual career.
"At this point in time," wrote Cahalane, "we are all left wondering whether an outstanding athlete is doing himself or his county justice. Cadogan is an asset to both Cork teams but his form and performance in both codes is suffering and sooner -- not later -- he will be forced to make a difficult choice."
That choice has been made for him now with the hurlers' defeat but Cadogan doesn't see Cahalane's point as an issue.
"As long as I stay in good shape and am not picking up injuries, I don't see a problem with it," he says. "Hopefully my performances haven't suffered over it and I'd like to think that they haven't.
"You're going to have people saying otherwise but I'm not too worried about what people think or say. In my case, if you have a bad game that's the first thing that's going to be thrown at you -- 'He's playing both.' I never came out and said that I'll be able to do both until the end of my playing days but I'm still only 24 and you'd like to think that you'll be coming into your prime at around 24 or 25. And having the opportunity to represent your county in both codes is something I treasure."
The footballers are still on the All-Ireland trail but the crushing hurling defeat to Galway represented more than just a 12-point hiding. Although Cork also lost last year's All-Ireland semi-final to Kilkenny by 12 points, at least Cork showed some honour in their second-half performance. There was no honour in this year's defeat and it was the biggest hammering a Cork team suffered in the championship since Limerick routed them in 1996.
The most demoralising aspect was that Cork just didn't look a team. When Cork were in their pomp in the middle of the last decade, they prided themselves on being like a band of brothers.
There was no trace of that spirit against Galway and even the crowd could sense it. The Cork public used to love that team but that broad connect between the supporters and the players no longer exists.
"It was a collapse," says Cadogan. "With 20 minutes to go, Galway just took over all over the place and we could have no excuses. Some people say that the strikes have impacted on us, but you just have to move on. Just because Galway beat us, I don't think you can turn around and blame the strikes.
"As players, we have to stand up and look at how we can better ourselves again. I'm not the type of person that is going to dwell on something that happened two or three years ago.
"Win or lose, you have to park a game. Cork hurling isn't going to be down for long. There was a lot of negative talk after the Galway game and the U-21s went out the following week and were excellent against Tipperary. You have to take the positives and negatives out of everything."
If Cadogan has learned one thing from being a dual player, it's the need to move on. Only having one sport to focus on has allowed him to channel all his energies into football and he was back on the team again against Down last weekend.
Some critics questioned his match sharpness beforehand but Cadogan knows how it works now; if he was to worry about every gun-blast aimed in his direction, he'd constantly be picking lead out of his hide.
"I don't think you can ever question yourself or your ability like that," he says. "You're there for a reason. If the management didn't have faith in you, you wouldn't be there, so that's the mentality you have to adopt.
"I didn't have a whole pile of game-time behind me before the Down game but when you're training with the calibre of player we have in the training squad, they're going to make sure you're at your sharpest. It's not something that ever came into my mind."
Life is sometimes as complicated as you can make it. Eoin Cadogan? No fuss, no panic. Just a guy out to do his job.