Sunday 22 July 2018

'We don't have to prove ourselves to anyone' - Cadogan

Cork star believes footballers are easy target

Kevin McKernan, Down, in action against Eoin Cadogan of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile
Kevin McKernan, Down, in action against Eoin Cadogan of Cork. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Many have questioned Cork's character but Eoin Cadogan is adamant that they're a "resilient bunch" and feels the corner has been turned after a string of disastrous results.

Relegation from Division 1 was compounded by a shock defeat to Tipperary and the criticism was coming from every direction with Darragh Ó Sé saying "it looks like Cork have become immune to the shame".

They're an easy target but after bouncing back with qualifier wins against Limerick and Longford, Cadogan (pictured) doesn't feel they have to prove themselves to anyone with players the ones that hurt most when their hard work doesn't bear fruit.

"Different guys are motivated by different things. The bottom line is that we shouldn't have to go out and prove ourselves to anyone. I'm a big believer in that," Cadogan said.

"All these guys that are writing articles are looking for hits. Ye know that as well as we do. Sensational headlines grab attention and that's what people are looking for.

"It's not just Darragh. There's loads of former players with different opinions but our job is to go out and perform.

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"There tends to be a lot of negativity attached to Cork football. But if you go back to 2008, '09, '10, '11 and '12 when Cork were doing well reaching the semi-finals, getting to All-Ireland finals, there was still a huge amount of negativity attached to the squad.

"It was never good enough. We won three National League titles, beaten All-Ireland finalists in '07 and '09, win it in '10. Criticism seems to be par for the course with Cork football."

The draw has favoured them, allowing Alan O'Connor and Paddy Kelly to return to full fitness and help set up a last-12 clash with Donegal tomorrow.

Trailing by two points with 35 to play, it was sink or swim in Pearse Park but the Rebel defender admits they were forced to "get the finger out" and paddle safely to shore. And now they're ready to hit "top gear".

"We certainly feel as a group that things are changing. The squad dynamic is changing. Confidence is being built and being able to come back to Croke Park for a championship game for us as a group is massive. We're really looking forward to grabbing that chance," he said.

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"We had a couple of setbacks but that's happened to a lot of these players over the last number of years and we keep coming back. We're a pretty resilient bunch, I don't think anyone can disagree with that.

"We feel as a group things are getting better and better. At one stage during the league, we had 17 players unavailable through injury; that's a phenomenal amount but they're clearing up."

Much has been made of Cadogan's younger brother Alan and Aidan Walsh joining the panel after the hurlers bowed out to Wexford and the former dual star, who accepted Conor Counihan's offer to join the footballers after the hurlers' exit in 2009, sees it as a positive move with both fitting in "seamlessly".

"It's great to have Alan and Aidan. It's brilliant for them, it's brilliant for the squad. If those two guys can contribute in any sense or any positive way at all then positive days.

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"The bottom line is within an inter-county set-up you want to win. You don't care how you win, you want to win the games. Why not bring them in? There certainly wasn't going to be any conflict from our side as players."

It's all change since Cork's semi-final defeat to Donegal four years ago but the 29-year-old knows what's ahead of them and is relishing facing it head on.

It may only be July but the footballers are the last hope of men's honours on Leeside with the Douglas clubman hoping to reward their loyal followers with actions on the pitch, not talk.

"I still feel like you haven't seen the best of this squad in particular this year. I don't think our performances have reflected the types of players that we have. So I'm hoping Saturday we show what we're worth," he concluded.

"In terms of the people that support us the whole way along, family, friends, the people that are there to pick the phone up after the s**t hits the fan on the Monday morning after you've been beaten in championship or when things aren't going well.

"They're the people you want to repay. I think they take a small bit of pride in that. It's about giving back as much as possible by performing out there. Not talking about it, talking is over now, it's time to perform."

Irish Independent

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