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Richie is more than happy in new home

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Richie Hogan, Kilkenny, in action against Paul Browne, Limerick. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Kilkenny v Limerick, Croke Park, Dublin

Richie Hogan, Kilkenny, in action against Paul Browne, Limerick. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Kilkenny v Limerick, Croke Park, Dublin

Richie Hogan, Kilkenny, in action against Paul Browne, Limerick. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Kilkenny v Limerick, Croke Park, Dublin

THERE was no chat, a la Jack O'Connor and Kieran Donaghy in 2006.

No phone call or no home visitation. No deliverance of a set of tasks or a terms of reference.

Not even a pre-match team talk.

Nothing.

On February 23rd of this year, with Kilkenny trailing Tipperary by six points in Nowlan Park, Brian Cody decided that Richie Hogan, the craftiest sniper in the country, would be a midfielder.

Quite how long he envisaged this development lasting is known to Brian Cody and Brian Cody only.

"I never really expected to be playing out there, to be honest. I'd never played out there before in my life," Hogan confirms from the slightly bemused vantage point of not only winning an All-Ireland and an All Star in his never-lived-in-before home, but also as Hurler of the Year.

pictured

"Never in any grade. I was always somewhere in the forwards between centre-forward and full-forward in all grades. So I never really appeared out there at all.

"I don't know, I wouldn't really have believed it. I always pictured myself as a forward."

The aforementioned fixture finished 5-20 to 5-14 to Kilkenny, a scoreline which told us that for all the previous summer's revolution, the old order retain the greatest capacity to thrill.

But largely, it was put down to the vagaries of February and nobody would fully comprehend the long term significance of the day.

Colin Fennelly grabbed 3-5 and thus, also the headlines and intros on the next day's match reports but there were structural renovations afoot.

flakey

Hogan's introduction and that of Cillian Buckley were notable more for the identity of the players they were replacing so early in the game; Tommy Walsh and Brian Hogan.

David Herity let a couple of flakey goals in too. By summer's end, none of the three would be in the Kilkenny team. All have now retired. And Richie Hogan is Hurler of the Year. As a midfielder.

Even though he wasn't even asked to play there.

"No, he never asked me to play there," Hogan insists.

"I had been injured. I had been out for 10 or 12 weeks with a cartilage problem in my knee.

"So I had missed all the early stuff and it was my first day back in the panel.

"They switched things around and put Lester (Ryan) back centre-back and literally, called my name out to midfield. I was never told or asked to do anything, it was just to go out and play away."

So does Hogan sees himself as a midfielder now?

"I don't really see myself as anything. I'm very comfortable playing anywhere from eight to 15. And if I'm called out 15 or called out 8, I'm just as happy.

instinct

"I know with my club I always played as a forward so I suppose I would always think like a forward.

"Sometimes, probably it can be a bad thing in the middle of the field because when I have so much space from 65 yards outs, my first instinct is to shoot.

"And while that's great as a forward, it's not the best thing to do as a midfielder so I suppose I had to learn that way.

"But midfield/forward; it doesn't really make a difference to me anymore."

"Definitely," Hogan adds, "I want to improve, of course I do.

"And get better next year and move on from where I was this year."


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