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Tuesday 19 September 2017

I'd sweep the streets to prolong hurling career - Hogan

Kilkenny hurler Richie Hogan. Pic: Sportsfile
Kilkenny hurler Richie Hogan. Pic: Sportsfile

Say hello to Richie Hogan, full-time amateur hurler.

The multi-decorated Kilkenny star is a qualified primary school teacher who stepped away from the classroom the Easter before. For one primary goal: to prolong his unpaid inter-county career.

He has been able to sustain this life-changing decision because he was a very adept saver when he did work but also because, well, money doesn't matter too much to him.

"It's just not that important to me," he says. "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."

When that will be, not even Hogan knows. Asked if he'll continue on this path indefinitely, he says: "One hundred percent, yeah."

The Danesfort clubman turns 29 in August; other players of a similar vintage have taken more defined sabbaticals to concentrate on their sporting careers, especially if their bodies are starting to creak.

Epidural

Hogan's has been for quite a while, albeit a recent epidural appears to have worked the oracle on his troublesome back and he can't wait for Saturday's All-Ireland SHC qualifier against Limerick.

More of that anon. But first, back to his career call.

"I finished the Easter break last year so I'm gone about 16 or 17 months. I'm incredibly lucky that I'm very good with money. I worked for seven years and I also have a Masters in Business and Finance. I worked for seven years, I saved a huge amount of money," explains Hogan, who was speaking at a Croke Park event promoting Sure, the GAA's official statistics partner.

"Since I stepped away, 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 at maybe quarter-past six and then go to work.

"Now I'm able to recover properly ... I can go to the gym at nine o'clock and take that break in the afternoon and then do my bit of hurling and then do a bit of yoga or core work."

It has been a liberating experience, albeit with its occasional drawbacks. He has great sympathy for individuals such as triathletes or runners and can understand why they train in groups of threes or fours. "It's quite difficult when you're on your own, especially when every club keeps kicking me off their hurling pitches!" he laughs.

Hogan lives in Dublin but, crucially, isn't rushing like mad to make training in Kilkenny. "My girlfriend teaches in Ballymun so the two of us live on Collins Avenue. I'm there a bit, I'll be at home for the summer. When it suits I don't have to travel back up to Dublin (after training) ... I can just go home, a ten-minute journey," he says.

Recruitment

"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.

"At the minute I'm going on savings alone; but I've seven years savings behind me whereas all my friends were going on holidays and all sorts of stuff like buying new cars.

"Like, I kind of flirted with the idea of job-sharing in school so you have a bit of income coming in. For me, it's not even about money at all."

Hogan concedes that for Kilkenny to win the All-Ireland from this 'back door' juncture would qualify as the "greatest year we've ever had".

He is adamant that Limerick pose a huge challenge, even in Nowlan Park, but he's just delighted to be feeling fit and healthy ahead of it, having suffered a recurrence of his back trouble in the run-up to their surprise Leinster exit to Wexford.

"I've three protruding discs, bulging discs, at the base of my back. Two of them are very worn from years of playing ... it flares up every now and again," he explains.

"I've tried a couple of things. Got a few cortisone injections into the joints. It didn't really work as well as I would have liked. Got an epidural in the discs themselves about a week ago. Literally woke up the following day like a new man."

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