Wednesday 7 December 2016

Tribesmen are impossible to stop if they get on a run, warns Richie Hogan

Published 02/07/2015 | 02:30

Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan believes Galway are close to top form already
Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan believes Galway are close to top form already

Kilkenny's Richie Hogan recalls the 2012 Leinster final through a grimace.

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One of the first words he utters is "embarrassing" when asked to recall what had happened that day.

Galway went into the game as 11/2 outsiders, having shipped a 25-point beating to Kilkenny in the league.

Their Championship form didn't offer much hope of turning over the Cats either as they had conceded 7-27 to Westmeath and Offaly in their previous two games.

However, Anthony Cunningham's men hurled with a fury that saw them restrict Kilkenny to a single point in the opening 30 minutes. By half-time, they were 14 points to the good and they would run out 10-point winners to secure a maiden Leinster title.

Destroyed

"We were totally blown away . . . Galway just came with - and they do it every couple of years - an attitude that they would beat all the teams in the country put together on a certain day.

"They just destroyed us," recalls the reigning Hurler of the Year.

"I can't remember the attitude going up at the time. I can't remember if we were focused or weren't focused, but we were that little bit off - and it is always said in our dressing-room that if you are a little bit off you will be wiped out of it.

"And we got a team that was so hungry and probably a little bit p***ed off at being written off and they had a reaction.

"It was an experimental enough Galway team too. Iarla Tannian was midfield - he's normally corner-forward - and he was man of the match.

"It was embarrassing. At half-time it was completely embarrassing."

Hogan remembers little else about the day except for the slight feeling of relief when he was called for the a random drug test after the game.

The process can take several hours to complete and, as is the norm, the team bus didn't wait and he got a lift back to Kilkenny with a member of the back-room team.

"I missed the bus home thank God. They weren't hanging around waiting for me!" he says.

"I was still in (Croke Park) until about 10 at night. I had to get a lift home. I was nearly delighted that (the drug test) did happen as I didn't want to face the bus journey home."

Hogan was in a place he has been only a handful of times in his Championship career with Kilkenny - a losing dressing room.

And if the drug test was a blessing in disguise, he believes that defeat to Galway ultimately helped them along the way to claiming that year's All-Ireland title.

Training

"We knew if we lost the next one we were gone. We turned around and won the All-Ireland that year, and I think that really helped.

"Because if we hadn't been hammered by Galway in the Leinster final we might have let things linger on to the (All-Ireland) semi-final, and when you are beaten then you are completely gone. We were very lucky we were beaten in a Leinster final."

So Hogan is aware of what Galway can bring. And having watched all three of their Championship outings so far, suggests they are close to top form.

"They are blitzing teams. The wind in the last two games didn't favour the game a whole lot but it is the way they are," he says.

"If they get on a run they are impossible to stop, that's the challenge to make sure they don't get on a run.

"The forwards they have, the new lads like Jason (Flynn), Cathal (Mannion), are adding to it now and they have the usual lads like Joe (Canning).

"So they are a serious handful in terms of their individual skill and talent."

Irish Independent

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