Cork aces ponder dual dilemma
Friday, October 02, 2009
They’re three of Cork’s brightest GAA starlets with one thing in common – a potentially difficult choice between hurling and football for the county. Fintan O’Toole looks at the respective cases for 2010.
Name: EOIN CADOGAN
THE case for football? Cadogan’s time in Cork football colours this summer may have been brief, but it was instructive nonetheless. He may not have bagged a starting 15 spot for the All-Ireland decider, but when parachuted into the game in difficult circumstances at half-time, he helped to lift the defensive siege. Showed in that second-half against Kerry that he has the strength and athleticism to man the pivotal full-back spot, and his inclusion from the off next season would bolster Cork’s defensive options considerably. Cadogan’s availability would also enable Michael Shields to be released to a half-back sector where he could thrive.
The case for hurling? Much like their football counterparts, the Cork hurling camp require Cadogan at the coalface of their defensive effort. He stepped into the sizeable void at full-back created by Diarmuid O’Sullivan’s retirement and adapted excellently to the nuances of the position as the summer progressed. Like the rest of the Cork team he endured troubles during the National League shellacking against Kilkenny but come the heat of championship, Cadogan began to thrive. Picked up the man-of-the-match bauble to soften the blow of defeat against Tipperary and then managed the not inconsiderable feat of keeping Joe Canning scoreless from play in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
What’s he likely to choose? Having proved he can do a job for both set-ups this summer, there’ll be strenuous efforts on both sides to secure Cadogan’s services for next season. Earlier this week he understandably declined to broach the subject, preferring to focus on an upcoming Cork Premier IHC final date with Douglas against Ballymartle. But hurling looks the front-runner with Cadogan admitting prior to the All-Ireland football semi-final against Tyrone that he feels a sense of loyalty to Denis Walsh’s camp after they gave him his inter-county break this year.
Verdict: 2010 hurler
Name: MICHAEL CUSSEN
THE case for football? Despite only having a fleeting involvement with Cork this summer, Cussen remains a versatile option for Conor Counihan. He is capable of featuring at midfield where he was sprung to during the recent All-Ireland semi-final and final and there’s still vivid memories of his stints at full-forward discomforting the Kerry defence during the 2007 and 2008 Munster finals. A broken collarbone in mid-March derailed his progress this season, but a full NFL campaign next spring could be of immeasurable benefits.
The case for hurling? Cussen emerged as a potent weapon for Sarsfields in the latter stages of their run to Cork SHC glory last season, smashing in 1-2 in the county final against Bride Rovers. But it’s this season where he has grown in stature, unleashing havoc on the club stage and amassing 2-12 from play in his last three games as Sarsfields have returned to the county decider. Naturally this has lead to speculation about Cussen’s talents being utilised at intercounty level and in a 6’7″ figure at the edge of the square, blessed with a great hand and the strength to brush off defenders, Cork would have a valuable addition to their squad. There’s been evidence of his intercounty hurling prowess as well, most explicitly in the 2005 Munster U21 final when he destroyed the Tipperary rearguard.
What’s he likely to choose? The suspicion is that Cussen may well switch allegiances next season. Cork’s football style appears to have swayed from using a big man at no.14 with Colm O’Neill preferred in that role this season, and Cussen’s big ball involvement has thus been restricted. Having excelled at club level in hurling, he’ll surely be tempted to translate that form onto the inter-county stage.
Name: CIARÁN SHEEHAN
Club: Éire Óg
THE case for football? Excelled for the Cork U21’s earlier this year on their run to All-Ireland glory, providing evidence that he can bridge that difficult gap from promising minor to starring adult.
The type of scoring half-forward that would be invaluable to the Cork senior squad, having showcased his long-range point-kicking against Kerry in the Munster U21 opener and Dublin in the All-Ireland U21 semi-final.
A great swift ball-carrier and a tall, strong presence in the half-forward line as well. The case for hurling? Also best deployed as a half-forward in hurling and could emerge as an influential figure for Cork in this department. Has the size and power to serve as a ball-winning outlet from puckouts, a figure Cork could really benefit from possessing. An accurate scoretaker as well and while it may take him a couple of years to thrive on the senior stage, the raw materials are certainly there.
What’s he likely to choose? Will continue to juggle both codes next year for his club Éire Óg and for Cork IT at Freshers level. But when it comes to the intercounty stage football looks set to be his preference, having been involved in Cork U21 and senior squads this year. Defending an All-Ireland crown with John Cleary’s charges will be his objective at the start of next season and then trying to break into Conor Counihan’s starting senior 15 in the summer.