WHEN Brian Hogan made his senior championship debut for Tipperary between the posts in last summer’s opening Munster SHC round-robin against Limerick, he was following in esteemed company.
Son of two-time All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Ken and hailing from the same club as the late great Tony Reddin – honoured as net minder on the Team of the Millennium – there were big shoes to fill for the Lorrha-Dorrha youngster.
Things didn’t go to plan for Tipp as they exited the provincial and All-Ireland race without a victory from four games but Hogan was one of the few to emerge with credit from a disastrous campaign having performed with aplomb.
That should have set him up for years to come but nothing is guaranteed in the hurling world and with Liam Sheedy replacing Michael Ryan and returning for a second stint at the Premier helm, Hogan will have to prove himself all over again.
There’s stiff competition in the shape of Kiladangan’s Barry Hogan – goalkeeper in last year’s surprise All-Ireland U-21 final defeat of Cork – and he’ll have a battle on his hands to nail down the No 1 spot again.
Both will be working closely with goalkeeping coach Darragh Egan and while it’s a much pressurised position with little room for error, Hogan – who regularly plays outfield with Lorrha-Dorrha – has always aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I never saw him play for Tipp, watching him play a few junior games with Lorrha when I was very young is about the most of it, but I’ve watched videos of him playing a few of the All-Irelands against Galway and Antrim,” Hogan says.
“We would have been pucking around in the garden growing up and that’s where you would learn the tricks of the trade, it was great to see what he did back then and I always aspired to play in goals after seeing that.”
Hurling has changed tenfold since Ken Hogan donned the blue and gold in the late 1980s/early 90s with puck-out strategies and a possession-based style of play in vogue, which places different requirements on the younger Hogan.
“He used to say he’d ask Babs (Keating) what to do with the puck-outs and Babs would just tell him to drive it as far he could. It’s a completely different ball game now. It’s all about possession, finding space, finding a man, picking the right option,” Hogan says.
“We’d talk about how the game has changed but you have to learn for yourself too and the goalkeepers that are there today, the likes of (Eoin) Murphy and (Anthony) Nash, you learn from looking at them and analysing them.
“You have to do a lot of the work yourself so I like to go to the club and hit a few puckouts myself, hit a few frees and just keep sharp on the ball wall. That’s what you have to do, you have to do the work on your own as well as the training with the lads.”
Mistakes will naturally happen in the last line of defence but the UCD student insists you must dust yourself down sharpish and maintain focus on the job at hand. “When you’re in the goals you just have to think about what you’re doing and what your job is,” he outlines.
“You can’t be thinking ‘Oh Jaysus what happens if I let this goal in or something like that’. It’s always about the next ball and you just have to put yourself in that frame of mind. I really enjoy playing in the goals, I always have and I never let any mistake or anything get me down.”
Hogan – joined by clubmate Patrick “Bonner” Maher in the new-look Tipp squad under 2010 All-Ireland-winning boss Sheedy – will be kept busy in the coming weeks as he mixes Premier duty with UCD commitments in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup.
Having been man-of-the-match when outfield in last year’s Ryan Cup final victory with Maynooth University – a side trained by his father – Hogan is looking forward to donning the famous UCD colours under Conor O’Shea, son of former Tipp manager Eamon.
UCD haven’t taken the spoils since 2001 and the budding Business and Geography teacher – currently on placement in Maynooth Post Primary School – sees it as “a huge stepping stone” for the season ahead.