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Sunday 17 December 2017

Hogan proving patience is a virtue

BRIAN Hogan's point is this.

How could he feasibly harbour a genuine sense of grievance about being left out of Brian Cody's starting team when he glances around at his shipmates in the very same vessel.

"I suppose if those things come into your head you only have to look to my left in the dressing room."

"I see Henry," Hogan says, picking the most sturdy example with which to buttress his argument, "and he is two years older than me he is still probably fitter, the condition he is in…certainly in the runs we are doing, he is always holding his own in them…and I suppose I could be saying to myself: 'hold on a minute, I am two years younger'."

experience

"Look," he continues, pitching a philosophical angle, "I've been at the other side of it, when I started, and I could feel the guys breathing down my neck in training I would be saying to my self: 'I need to perform here, because I know if I am not I know this guy is capable of coming in.'

"That's the way you would look at it. It's a long year and when it came to experience, I knew I would get my chance."

Hogan's patience has paid off before.

Famously, he was dropped after the 2014 Leinster final, when Damien Fitzhenry's puck-outs dragged the Kilkenny half-back line hither and thither, and it took until 2007 for him to fully reclaim that centre-back spot, wherein he has played in each of Kilkenny's last five All-Ireland wins.

Which is probably why Brian Cody's defence just feels the more secure for his gangly, yet authoritative presence at six.

And presuming 'Bonner' Maher spends at least some time at centre-forward on Sunday, it's safe enough to ascribe vital importance status to their duel.

"He is flying it and has been all year and is arguably their most consistent player," says Hogan, paying customary dues but not inaccurately either.

"It's a tough task to keep him under wraps again there is no guarantee that I will be marking him," he points out.

"Their forwards like to rotate and like to move. In other years you would be gone in with a preconception of marking this guy and that guy and the next thing you know its somebody else.

dangerous

"You could actually in six different stages during the match be marking all six. You have to prepared for that it's a bit dangerous to be going in with one particular guy in mind. You kind a need to be focusing on your own game what ever happens after that you just don't know who is."

They squared off last time these titans of hurling industry clashed in Croke Park, back in the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final, but served only as bemused bystanders in the Lar Corbett/Tommy Walsh Laurel and Hardy Show.

"Circus?," he smiles. "I was totally oblivious to that. I know nothing about it to be absolutely honest.

"They passed me once or twice but that was about it. Croke Park is a big field. The space test the best of teams you cant be afraid of it regardless the way its gone now you are going to be brought into positions in the field you are not going to be ordinarily going to be playing in.

"You kind of have to be comfortable, confident to do that. The fortunate thing is the six of us, we are comfortable enough to play in different positions at different stages."

Which wont stop people sizing up the Hogan/'Bonner' - JJ/Callanan battles in the same manner as the 'tale of the tape' appraises prize fighters before a bout.

Hogan says that mostly, they become "a battle of wills."

"Each team wants to pose their own game plan, it's a matter of who does it the best at the same time," he outlines.

"I don't think JJ is overly worried if the ball comes in high or low. He is comfortable on either aspect.

emphasis

"Likewise with the rest of us. We will be going out with a particularly kind of emphasis to play a game with that in mind. There is no doubt Tipp will have their own ideas and placements in the first ten or fifteen minutes.

"It's a matter of sizing each other up but at the same time you are going to be dragged into positions that you are not used to it's a matter of just dealing with it and getting on with it.

"You cant be just sitting in the middle of the pitch at centre back all day because it is not going to happen. You are going to be looking around and picking up guys and thinking on you feet," Hogan concludes. "That's the key."

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