IT WAS always likely this summer would feature a debate about who Eoin Cadogan should line out for on a big weekend for the Cork hurlers and footballers.
That’s why he’s the only current top level dual player, not alone on Leeside but in the country, though Keith Higgins from Mayo deserves a mention too, in a county where the small ball game is marginalised.
The speculation about whether Cadogan would pick up a camán or put on a pair of football gloves next weekend ended when a statement clarified his position last Wednesday.
It didn’t appease the hurling faithful on the banks though; Conor Counihan’s footballers got the nod ahead of Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s young guns. Unacceptable to many. There is always an element of hurling snobbery in these parts.
However they could make a valid argument that Cadogan needed a week of training and 70 minutes hurling more. After all, his display against Tipp, with his marker Bonner Maher doing major damage, was his worst of the year. The hurling game is also a knock-out tie, the footballers have a back-door if Clare pull off a massive shock.
Not that his availability will impact on either result, Cork are bankers to win both whether he starts or not. And despite being centre-back in hurling and corner-back in football, he’s equally integral to both squads.
So what made up his mind?
Was it was the lure of a first senior Munster medal — Cadogan wasn’t on the football panel in 2008 and 2009 when they last lifted the trophy, and joined the hurling squad in ‘08 — or because the footballers are in a far stronger position to challenge for an All-Ireland?
Maybe it’s down to the fact that while the hurlers are out a week after the Offaly tie, against Limerick or Wexford, the footballers must wait a month after the Clare match for the All-Ireland quarter-final.
With the footballers avoiding the qualifiers by beating Kerry, this is the only expected clash of the codes for Cadogan all summer. You can be certain the football management weren’t enamoured with the prospect of Cadogan unavailable for two months before the quarter-final.
During the league though there were clashes, which ruled him out of the hurlers’ loss to Galway for example, it wasn’t an issue for Cadogan. He started 11 times in the spring, including two finals, and only lost twice, to Kerry in football and Kilkenny in the hurling final, and his form was consistent and impressive throughout.
Despite lining out for nine consecutive weekends from March 11 to May 6, he stayed injury free, and before the Munster championship started, helped Douglas beat Na Piarsaigh in both hurling and football at club level.
In a summer of superhero movies from The Avengers to The Dark Knight Rises, he was shaping up to be the Rebels’ marvel. He was immense against Kerry last month, but his errors against Tipp and then picking football over hurling next weekend has Cork supporters fretting.
It will be interesting to see who replaces him at number six now against Offaly. Unless JBM wants to shift Shane O’Neill from corner-back or Lorcán McLoughlin from midfield, there are three Na Piarsaigh candidates — John Gardiner, Seán Óg and Christopher Joyce.
Seán Óg isn’t a centre-back, so that leaves Gardiner, who surprisingly has never been offered a sustained chance to audition there, or precocious Joyce, so influential for Na Piarsaigh and the Cork U21s lately.
On the basis that Gardiner and Seán Óg were overlooked as impact subs in the closing quarter against Tipp, the stage could be set for Joyce, who is U21 again next year, to become the latest rookie pitched in under JBM. The only fear is he wasn’t given ample game-time during the league.
Killbrittain’s Ross Cashman started early games against Waterford and Dublin, when he was replaced by Cadogan, Gardiner was six for the Galway loss, with Cadogan manning the middle both times against Kilkenny and Tipp. Did the management feel Joyce was too callow to push for a place this year?
If so then it will take his incredible form or the management’s need to look at the bigger picture of their three- year term to see him start next Saturday.
And however the season pans out from here, Cadogan should be commended, not condemned, for keeping Cork’s dual tradition alive.
Joyce is the right choice to replace Cadogan
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
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