Sunday 22 April 2018

'We always put it behind us. We don't hold grudges'

After a number of seasons as a dual player, Eoin Cadogan's focus is entirely on the Cork footballers this year, as he tells Marie Crowe

Eoin Cadogan
Eoin Cadogan
Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

During Cork's win over Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds, Eoin Cadogan spotted Mick O'Dwyer in the stand taking in proceedings. The Clare manager was checking out his opposition for the Munster football championship and Cadogan was on his radar.

The Cork defender is that kind of footballer, the type who sparks interest, the one you'd check for on the team-sheet and the guy you'd go into battle with. His never-say-die attitude has earned him a reputation that precedes him

"Nobody likes losing," says Cadogan. "And any time I became any bit irate on the pitch it was from passion and a will to win more than anything else."

No one can question Cadogan's dedication. He has been a dual player for several years so when he returned from a trip to Australia in January and decided to throw his lot in with the footballers more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Cadogan became the latest in a long line of big names to depart Jimmy Barry-Murphy's hurling squad.

The demands of the two games was a big issue and played a role in Cadogan's decision to opt out of the hurling set-up, but there's no denying that he'd be still involved if things had been different. Cadogan would love to be gearing up for two big games against Clare, today's football clash and then next week's Munster hurling semi-final in the Gaelic Grounds. He's put it behind him now but is he disappointed at how it has turned out?

"It is what it is, but my focus is on the football now, that's all done and dusted. Will I watch the hurling? Of course and do I want them to do well? Of course. I have lots of good friends on the team."

Dónal óg Cusack is another player who is a notable absentee from the Cork hurling panel. Back in February when the goalkeeper was controversially left out of the squad, Cadogan sent out a tweet supporting his former team-mate. It read: 'Seems strange a man who does 9 months recovery 5/6 times a week doesn't even get a chance to prove he's worth a place on the panel.'

Out of respect for those who are there now, Cadogan won't be drawn further on whether Cusack should be on the panel still. But it's clear he holds the Cloyne man in high regard.

Soon after he became a senior player in 2007, Cadogan was catapulted into the full-back line, taking over from Diarmuid O'Sullivan. He had big shoes to fill and Cusack's influence was vital.

"I have a lot to thank him for; he took me under his wing and really brought me along. Anyone who plays in the full-back line will tell you that the goalie is your eyes behind."

Cadogan also feels that Cusack will make a good manager in the future.

"He has a great passion and love for the game, sometimes I tell him to switch off and stop thinking about it but he is always thinking about it. He's always looking for ways to better himself or a team. He gives 110 per cent always; he has the perfect attributes needed to be a manager. I just hope that it's within our own county.

"He'd be a tough taskmaster, we had our fair share of bust-ups when we were playing. Just coming into big games when the pressure is on and things aren't going well in training. It happens in football too, sometimes when there is a row in training you know you are at the edge of where you want to be for championship and that is only healthy. We always put it behind us, we don't hold grudges.

"He has good ideas and his attention to detail is excellent especially when it comes to specific things like work rate, how a team sets up and puck-outs. He always has a good knowledge of what teams are at and how they are playing."

It's been an eventful year for Cadogan. Along with parking his hurling career, he's also made some changes in his professional life. An electrician by trade he had been working as a salesman but spending a lot of time on the road does not sit well with being an inter-county player. Something had to give, and it wasn't going to be sport. So Cadogan decided to return to college with the ultimate goal of working in an industry that he was passionate about.

Fitness and training has been a constant feature in his life so he enrolled in Setanta College to study physical fitness and conditioning and immediately felt he was going down the right career path.

"Most of my time is spent playing sport so what better way to make a living then doing something that I love. Seán O'Sullivan from Kerry, Carlow manager Anthony Rainbow and Willie Heffernan from Kildare are all on the course too. You are learning constantly from their experiences and from people from different sports."

Cadogan would like to go working with a team; it doesn't have to be in Gaelic games he's happy as long as he's in sport. With strength and conditioning forming such a big part of team preparation, he can envision a time when every county has a full-time S&C coach.

"You need to catch young fellas early to develop them properly and if you have a strength and conditioning coach in place who is gradually progressing through under 16, minor and on to under 21, you will definitely see results. Players will come through. They will be more physically developed when they do come through for senior level.

"From an inter-county point of view, the GAA has moved on a huge amount in recent years in terms of preparation. Ten years ago, the strength and conditioning coaches were probably known as the guy who ran fellas around the pitch. Now you are probably dealing with them more than anyone else in the backroom team, whether it is recovery or weights sessions, warm-ups or cool-downs, you are dealing with these guys all the time."

Last November after years of back-to-back seasons with both the hurlers and footballers followed by club commitments, Cadogan decided to take some time off and do a bit of travelling. His course is predominantly online so it wasn't an issue; he went to Perth first to catch up with friends before meeting his girlfriend in Sydney.

Once he hit Sydney Cadogan was ready to get stuck into some pre-season training. Cavan's Nicholas Walsh is based there working with the GWS Giants as strength and conditioning coach. The AFL team were in the middle of their own pre-season so he invited the Cork star to take part in a few sessions.

"I came back in good enough shape. From December 7 to January 7, I did 28 sessions whether it be running or swimming. I returned home on January 10 and was back training a day later."

That dedication epitomises Cadogan's character. He's a true professional, a hurler, a footballer and a rebel with a cause.

Adidas ambassador Eoin Cadogan is wearing the next instalment of the world's most iconic boot, the Predator® Incurza XTRX SG II. The new boot will be available from July 1. Visit adidas.ie

Irish Independent

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