Richie Hogan is a class act.
Crowned the outstanding hurler of 2014, the Danesfort clubman is one of the brightest stars of GAA right now.
A midfielder last season, but better known as a devastating forward, the teacher has been describing how his Kilkenny career almost never came to pass after a night out in college could have scuppered his inter-county dream.
Brian Cody does not invite players onto his panel, but instead request they attend several months of training sessions in Nowlan Park to prove if they have what it takes to make his 26-man squad and then force their way onto his starting XV.
It’s a process that Hogan almost missed out on entirely as he explained to Cillian O’Connor earlier this week .
‘I came onto the panel in 2007 and I was 18. I was in college and like everyone in college I was out the night before. I lost my phone and I was getting a lift home on the Friday and my mother rang me to say that Brian Cody had rang the house and was looking for me.’
‘He said that he had rang me maybe 18 or 19 times times looking for me. I rang him back and embarrassingly enough and I remember his first words were ‘it’s harder to get the Pope than it is to get you on the phone’
‘I didn’t mention I was out, and like my mother, presumed I didn’t drink.’
Hogan also describes the step up in intensity that he found at senior level compared to what he had experienced when training with county underage sides.
The infamous Nowlan Park sessions are not just a myth it seems,
‘I would have been used to minor and U21 sessions where it’s quite tough but it’s quite loose as well.’
‘But if you got two points with Kilkenny you’d be coming home delighted with yourself, it was like scoring in an All-Ireland final it was that tough.’
You can hear the full piece below: