'I'd gladly sweep the streets for 50 years' as Iong as I get the most out of my Kilkenny career - Hogan
Nothing lasts forever, so it's important to maximise your time at the top, and Kilkenny star Richie Hogan has no regrets about putting his teaching career to the side, with hurling his "highest priority" until his inter-county career comes to an end.
During the Easter holidays last year, the 2014 Hurler of the Year decided that the time was right to throw all his eggs in the hurling basket in his quest to add to his haul of seven All-Ireland medals.
Hogan flirted with the idea of job sharing but with seven years behind him, he had enough savings to be self-sufficient and doesn't plan to return to full-time employment as long as he can contribute with the Cats.
"It's not even about money at all," Hogan said. "Some people need money to be able to live that lifestyle and focus on their career, and that's hugely important, and the GPA are doing a huge amount of work on that. It's just not that important to me.
"I remember saying to one of these life coaches, 'If I play to the age of 35 and get absolutely everything out of myself, I will gladly sweep the streets for the next 50 years'. It wouldn't bother me in the slightest.
"But I'm lucky in the sense that I'm a teacher, I'm qualified, I can go and get a job whenever I want, so it shouldn't be that difficult if I ever decide to go back. I'm incredibly lucky that I'm very good with money. I worked for seven years, I saved a huge amount.
"I do a bit with a recruitment company, we recruit teachers to go to the Middle East. That's in its infancy stages so I do a couple of hours a week at that and that's what keeps me going. Right now I'm going on savings alone."
Hogan isn't the first GAA player to focus all his attention on their craft, with footballers like Darran O'Sullivan (Kerry) and Karl Lacey (Donegal), as well as Waterford hurling boss Derek McGrath, doing something similar, but he has taken it to new levels and feels he is reaping the rewards.
"Since I stepped away from it it's just been absolutely brilliant. I like to be able to do hurling every day. I used to do the gym sessions in the morning so I'd go to DCU and I'd do the gym session at maybe 6.15 and then go to work," he said.
"And I'd do my hurling in the evening, and then on a training day I'd travel home. Now I'm able to recover properly so I don't have to go to the gym at 6.0 in the morning, I can go to the gym at 9.0 and take that break in the afternoon.
"Then I can do my bit of hurling and then do a bit of yoga, core-work and work like that. It just makes a huge difference. And I'm at the age where, look, I'm 28, I have to look after myself properly. That's my highest priority."
Predominantly based in Dublin, the biggest issue which the Danesfort dynamo faces is clubs kicking him off their pitches, but three protruding discs in his back have been causing him discomfort and left in jeopardy for Kilkenny's Leinster semi-final defeat to Wexford earlier this month.
He was just "happy to be on the pitch" but after a few failed cortisone injections, a recent epidural left him feeling "like a new man". Coping mentally with the 'less is more approach' which team-mate Michael Fennelly has been forced to endure in recent years is something the four-time All-Star could never understand.
"Travelling was a big thing as well around that time. It was tough. It would depress you doing it. Travelling home, getting out of the car and you're so broke up after it. I just love training. I can't do the Michael Fennelly thing of take it easy, get it right at a slow pace," he said.
"I love to be able to train. I'd walk from Dublin to training, I just love it so much. I can't do that thing that he does. It becomes a bit of a head thing.
"I'll be at home for the summer. When it suits me I don't have to travel back to Dublin for training sessions. I can just go home, a ten-minute journey, as opposed to an hour and a half. Training day isn't a rush anymore."
As Brian Cody's Kilkenny stare down the unfamiliar qualifier route, starting this weekend against Limerick in Nowlan Park, Hogan hopes the Cats are back to their best, saying "if this goes well for us, it will be the greatest year we've ever had" as they look to build through the back-door.
With youthful exuberance on their side, Hogan feels the Treaty have "no pressure on them", with a surprise element to John Kiely's charges which they must heavily guard against.
"Look at Cian Lynch, he loves to go out and enjoy himself and does incredible things. There's that element of no fear about them, which is going to be a huge challenge, but if you break it down they have fantastic players all over the pitch who would make teams in other counties easily.
"Just because they didn't get it right last year or the year before… you know, look at Wexford, just because they didn't get it right… then people say they're gone. They are really going to be a huge challenge for us."
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