Alan Cadogan remains hopeful
By Cian O'Connell
Croke Park has been the scene of some disappointing Cork hurling days in recent years.
All Ireland semi-final defeats following Munster triumphs in 2017 and 2018 hurt, while the quarter-final loss to Kilkenny last year was the latest blow.
The splendid Cork forward Alan Cadogan, though, remains hopeful that the red and white team can enjoy a productive summer.
"We were probably in a good position last year against Kilkenny, the previous year against Limerick," Cadogan admits.
"Now I wasn't involved in that, but just looking on - and obviously the year before against Waterford.
"So we're there or thereabouts but we can't keep doing the same thing. Time is running out for some of us.
"I'm 27 this year, I'm in my peak years. It only seems like the other day when I was making my debut. That's my advice to the younger - that it'll just go like that.
"You're not guaranteed to come back into Croke Park. When I left Croke Park after the Kilkenny game last year, I just had a look around the dressing room.
"Even as a 26 year-old, you just don't know when you'll be back again. Whether that's due to injury. Munster is so competitive, it's a battlefield and you might not even qualify."
Cadogan, currently on the comeback trail following a hip flexor injury, is heartened by the return of Kieran Kingston as manager ahead of Sunday's Allianz Hurling League opener against Waterford at Walsh Park.
"Yeah, absolutely, when John (Meyler) stepped aside last year, his name was obviously popping up and few of us as players, he was the one we kind of wanted to go after," Cadogan replies.
"Once Kieran himself showed that bit of interest, we knew he was the right fella for the job. I’ve lost count now of how long he’s been involved with Cork seniors.
"As a selector with Jimmy Barry Murphy, a coach with Jimmy then a manager. Now he’s come back for his second stint as manager.
"You know, he’s very good with players, he’s a people person. He’s a players favourite but at the same time very cut-throat.
"I think he described it as an itch that needed to be scratched and that there was unfinished business from 2017 when he stepped away.
"Knowing Kieran, he’s not coming back just for the fun of it, he’s coming back to win an All-Ireland. Simple as that.
"We've a long way to go and as I say, we might be a small bit behind the Tipps, the Kilkennys, the Limericks - they're the bench mark. But look, we're very happy with Kieran and he has good support team around him.
"He adds people to the backroom team who add value. And he's done that. But he knows if he does the same thing that he did in 2017, we won't go any further."
So Cadogan is adamant that significant potential exists in Kingston's panel.
"He knows he needs to bring it to another level and we demand that from him and his management team," Cadogan comments.
"But then on the flip side, he demands that from us. We obviously weren't good enough in 2019, we weren't good enough in '18 and we weren't good enough in `17, so again, we need to bring it to a new level for 2020 and do something different.
"We're there or thereabouts but again, we need to take it to another level in order to progress and push on this year."