Cork's Cadogan lines up bid to crack dual code
Eoin Cadogan tells Marie Crowe that he is ready for the challenge of serving two masters
Cork hurler and footballer Eoin Cadogan is determined to continue as a dual star for the coming season. The full-back is planning to approach Conor Counihan and Denis Walsh in the hope that he can be facilitated to play both codes. Cadogan knows only too well the level of sacrifice that will be required.
"You don't get a chance too often to play both codes and you just have to programme yourself for it so you know what is ahead come January," he says.
Last year, Cadogan was part of both Rebel panels. He opted for hurling at the beginning of the season and found himself filling the boots of veteran Diarmuid O'Sullivan. A man of the match performance in his debut against Tipperary convinced him he had made the right choice.
However, in the wake of Cork's pre-season strike, the hurlers found themselves out of contention for the Liam McCarthy Cup early in the championship when Galway exposed their failings in the qualifier rounds.
Hurling's loss was football's gain and manager Conor Counihan wasted no time in recruiting Cadogan for his panel.
"After the loss to Galway, naturally enough I was very disappointed and on the Monday Conor contacted me to see if I would be interested in coming along to a challenge game against Limerick in Mallow. I knew I would be rusty enough but it's great to be called onto any inter-county team so I said I would give it a lash and Conor and the selectors kept me on."
Last year's experience opened his eyes somewhat, giving him an appetite to give both codes a go again this year. "I played hurling and football the whole way up through underage levels but I was absolutely terrible at football, not saying I was a good hurler, but I was ridiculously bad at football. Even soloing the ball, it used to be flying away from me. I couldn't get my game at U12 U14 or U16.
"I remember playing a game at full-back, the fellow I was marking had got 3-3 off me and at half-time I asked to be taken off. I got a right talking to for asking to come off, they told me I was staying in there and to get on with it.
"At one stage I went home to my parents and said that football wasn't for me at all and I'm going to stick with hurling. My parents told me to keep it up for another year and see how I get on. They were always supportive and encouraging without ever putting too much pressure on me."
This was to be the start of his transformation into an inter-county footballer. "At 17 I got a bit bigger, I made a massive jump and broke onto the Douglas senior team. We played Castlehaven and I was started at wing-forward. Niall Cahalane was playing midfield, they sent me out to mark him.
"It was a daunting task at my age to go mark a Cork footballing legend but I did it and I seem to have progressed from there. I got on to the Cork minor football and hurling teams and that drove me on again to make the 21s and now the senior. I'm glad my mam and dad persisted with me.
"Playing on two inter-county teams would be a massive achievement for me, in saying that I don't want to fall between two stools. But I am going to have a chat with both managers and see what they think.
"It will definitely come down to what they say; we'll sit down and if everyone is pulling in the same direction it will make it that bit easier. I'm sure both lads know each other very well from their playing days and maybe that will be a help. If they both don't agree then it's not going to happen."
Seán óg ó hAilpín, who himself has been a dual star, said recently that there is no room for dual players in Cork in 2010. The wing-back played in two All-Ireland finals ten years ago and he is a player Cadogan would look to for advice.
"Seán óg played both and I value his opinion. He has been around so long that he is very knowledgeable on the whole thing. It would do me no harm to have a chat with him to see how it went for him. I would ask him for his opinion because he has done it, as did Tom Kenny. I will talk to a few players but it will be my own decision at the end of the day."
Along with the training commitment that is required comes the added pressure to perform for two teams. Cadogan believes it comes down to the individual and as a laid-back person he takes it in his stride. For him it's a different type of pressure that he is concerned about.
"When you get onto an inter-county panel your main aim is to break into the team and you push yourself until that day comes. When it does it's a great feeling you've pushed yourself to achieve that goal but then holding onto that place is your next aim.
"There is no position safe on a Cork team. It doesn't matter if you win man of the match in your first game, your place isn't safe. There will always be someone there behind you pushing for that jersey. That is what you need in a team, it brings up the intensity in training."
He knows the difficulties of what he hopes to achieve, but Cadogan is more than ready for it.