‘GOALKEEPERS walk a tightrope between triumph and disaster. The hurling goalkeeper is glorified as a saviour if his team succeeds and damned if they fail’.
So wrote St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield 1999 All-Ireland club medal winning number one Christy O’Connor in his compelling 2005 book ‘Last Man Standing’.
And Coolderry supremo Ken Hogan, the 1987 All Star goalkeeper, is hoping he and his players are the ones being glorified on St Patrick’s Day at Croke Park.
“It is tremendous to get recognition,” he acknowledged when Cathal Parlon’s AIB Provincial award was spoken of. However he swiftly added, “Individual awards are great for the individual but team awards are collected on the stand. Individual awards are of little value if your team are not at the pinnacle and that is what we are striving for.”
Ken, an All-Ireland SHC medal winner with Tipperary in 1989 & ’91, is sixty minutes away from masterminding Coolderry’s first ever All-Ireland club triumph. Two decades earlier he was at the helm with Birr as they lost the delayed ’92 decider to Kiltormer at Semple Stadium. And having led the ‘Premier County’ to All-Ireland U-21 glory in 2010, he’d dearly love to add the club crown to his curriculum vitae.
“I never even had the privilege of winning a county championship with my club (Lorrha) and I feel it is a huge privilege for both teams to represent their counties and their province in Croke Park. It is going to be one of those games where whoever comes out of the blocks fastest and hangs in there until the bitter end will probably be lucky enough to prevail. Hurling is all about breaks.”
Standing between Coolderry and the Tommy Moore Cup are Loughgiel Shamrocks, who in 1983 defeated St Rynagh’s in the replayed All-Ireland Final at Casement Park. Ken was reminded about this by the country’s first hurling All Star, St Rynagh’s ‘keeper in ’83 Damien Martin and it was his opposite number Niall Patterson that captained the triumphant Loughgiel. Ken and Niall were the opposing custodians in the 1989 All-Ireland SHC Final.
“Goalkeepers were different that time. We didn’t go past the square,”
joked Ken. “Damien Martin coached me to be a goalkeeper. It was the only coaching I got. That time you pucked it out and tried to save as many as we could. There was no such thing as short puck-outs or moving with the backline.”
See this week’s Offaly Express to read the full interview with Ken Hogan