Top Cat Hogan hails handballer Brady for inspiration
Richie Hogan hit the ground running when Kilkenny's Championship campaign kicked off last weekend.
The Hurler of the Year could have been forgiven if it took him a while to find his groove after a stellar 2014 but he hit 1-5 as the Cats dismantled Wexford.
And Hogan revealed he looks beyond hurling to handball star Paul Brady for inspiration when it comes to maintaining high levels of performance.
"I follow lads who are really dominant," said the Danesfort man. "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."
Hogan himself was a champion handballer as a teenager before hurling took his complete attention. There was never any doubt that he was going to pursue a career in hurling instead of handball but he remains a fan of the sport, and of Brady in particular.
"He is 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.
"I don't know how many miles that is but he does that three days a week or drives into Dublin to play someone who is pretty competitive in a challenge game.
"That's the sort of stuff he does. You (ask) what separates these guys from the average guys. It's things like that.
"He's won ten All-Ireland doubles, ten 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."
Despite becoming embroiled in a relegation battle during their League campaign, Kilkenny left the rest of the hurling world in no doubt that they were ready for another Championship campaign when dismissing Wexford.
They take on Galway in Sunday's Leinster final at Croke Park in what is a repeat of the 2012 decider that saw the Tribesmen scalp Kilkenny in sensational style.
And while they shipped some high-profile losses to retirement during the close season, Hogan insisted the panel is always changing year on year.
"Since I came in first we have been losing two or three every year. The lads who left this year were just so high profile," he said.
"They gave great service. They have been filtered out over the last number of years. But we have lads to fill the spots. That's what we have to concentrate on.
"I mean JJ Delaney came in and replaced Willie O'Connor when he retired in 2000. He was one of the best corner-backs of the '90s.
"JJ just came in, new lad on the block, nobody really knew his name, and now he leaves with nine All-Ireland medals and someone else has to stand in. That's just the way it goes.
"I know everybody in Kilkenny keeps saying that, but they keep saying the same thing because it is true. Lads just fall out and others fall in.
"Obviously sometimes we won't be as good as other years but I think we have a team this year that's really strong."