WHEN it comes to players who have worn the red jersey with distinction then Alan Cadogan is up there with the best of them.
Now in his eighth season on the senior hurling panel, his desire and passion to win the coveted All-Ireland championship is as bright as ever.
He knows it’s easier said than done and at 28, time may not be on his side, but the look on his face says it all – it won’t be for lack of effort on his part if they fall short.
Cork’s league campaign was a mixed bag and the margins were so tight that at one stage in their final game against Galway they were top of the table, but by the end of the game they were fifth.
But Alan feels they learned a lot from the league campaign that they can take into their championship clash with Limerick.
“Fellas were delighted to hear we had five good games ahead of the championship, but it was kind of an up and down league for us really.
“We started off really well against Waterford, then up in Thurles against Tipp it could have gone either way and then in our final game against Galway in the 62nd minute we were top of the table and at the final whistle, we finished fifth.
There were huge positives we took from the league and learnings that we have tried to implement in training ahead of the game against Limerick.
“I was delighted we had five games and I think management were as well and gave up a chance to get match fit and also for them to give some of the younger players game time.
“We are trying to create a high-performance culture and if you look at Dublin they are the best example of that with the way their squad develops every year.
“In our case you have fellas coming in this year who are all trying to get places in the matchday squad and then the team and saying I want to start. The same 15 that start won’t finish and you have fellas that come off the bench that can do a great job and finish out a game.
“Limerick are a good example of that as well as they have fellas that come off the bench and are finishers and help them see out games.”
Mention of Limerick sees thoughts turn to their league encounter and their championship clash.
“When the draw was made and we had to play them in the league there was always going to be a bit of shadow boxing, but Limerick wanted to put down a marker up at the Gaelic Grounds and I think they did that.
“We had a very young team out and even though I didn’t play in the end at 28 I was the oldest named player to start. But I don’t think we can just park that game, we have to take a lot of learnings from it and try to implement them in the championship tie.
“But we have to believe and have confidence in ourselves and embrace that challenge. Games between us and them have always been close, including the cracker that went to extra-time in Croke Park in 2018 and also in 2019.
“Obviously we will be going in as underdogs and rightly so as we are going up against the All-Ireland champions and they are the benchmark that we and others are trying to challenge but we can’t shy away from it. We have a job to try and do and it’s as simple as that.”
Looking back at his time involved with the senior panel he says it goes in a flash but he has some good memories of it.
The 2014 Munster final down the old Páirc was one, the 2017 Munster final against Clare coming off the back of a poor 2016 was another.
“I value my Munster medals but the bottom line is you want to win an All-Ireland and that’s what we are trying to do and that starts against Limerick.”
In his time playing with both his club, Douglas, and Cork his older brother has also been involved.
Eoin has played on both senior football and hurling sides and is the last member of the 2010 team that won the football All-Ireland still playing at inter-county level.
Alan said he has always been someone who has helped him develop his game.
“People say your inter-county career goes in a flash and he’s 34 now and still playing and deserves huge credit for what he has achieved.
“That’s huge commitment and sacrifices on his part as the game has evolved over the last number of years to stay involved. Due to him playing football and injuries we have only played a few years together. It’s great to have that opportunity again and huge credit has to be given to Eoin to still be competing at the highest level as not many people are still doing it at his age."