Eamon O'Shea has worked hard with Brian Hogan on puckout strategy
In association with Tipperary Water
Thirty years after his father had kept goal for Tipperary in the breakthrough All-Ireland senior hurling final victory over Antrim in 1989, current incumbent Brian Hogan will be hoping to maintain a proud family tradition by following in the footsteps of his greatest influence, his dad Ken.
1989 was a great year for Tipp as the Liam MacCarthy Cup was returned to The Premier County for the first time since 1971. Michael 'Babs' Keating presided over the hurling revolution which began with that incredible Munster Final victory in Killarney in 1987, but it would take until 1989 for the team to finally get over the line and claim the All-Ireland victory.
Many Tipp supporters will recall the final of 1988 against Galway which failed to reach the expected heights, when Noel Lane swept in a late goal to win the title for the Tribesmen on a blustery day. That night in The Embankment at the aftermatch reception, while there was much disappointment in Tipperary, Ken Hogan defiantly proclaimed on The Sunday Game - “We'll learn from this and we'll back next year to go one better.” He was right. They did.
People outside of Tipperary claimed that the 1989 victory was ' a soft All-Ireland' – a withering accusation still fired at the men of that era to this day. But, Babs always answered that All-Ireland medals don't come in the post and that statement rings through to this day – All-Irelands are hard fought and Sunday will be up there amongst the hardest of them.
Little did Ken Hogan think, as Bobby Ryan was lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup, that his son would be on the Tipperary team, thirty years later to do the same thing. Like any father he would have wished for this for Brian, but that wish only became a possibility when the gigantic 6'6” Lorra Dorrha man worked his way onto the panel to win the 2016 title as a non player, and then onto the team during the disappointing 2018 season.
Like all players in the squad, Brian, who played minor, intermediate and u-21 also for Tipp, has had much competition for his place in the starting fifteen, but he has met those challenges head-on and has proven his considerable 15st 3lbs weight in gold with s string of fine performances and crucial saves. His distribution too has been top class and in the current game with such an emphasis being place on re-starts, his accuracy and bravery in the puckout has had to be from the top drawer – it has been and that's why Brian is regarded as one of the top custodians in the country right now.
There is a world of difference between the game of hurling played by Ken and the current one which sees Brian standing between then posts. But, the basic fundamentals remain the same- keep your defence in check; get the basic catching and clearing right; and guard the onion sack with your life. Yes tactics play a much bigger role nowadays and though Brian, like did Dad, has the capacity to boom the sliothar into the opposition full back line, he also has the bravery to rely on the understanding he possess with each line on the field of play. That understanding has grown from weeks and weeks of preparation, but the fact remains that most coaching strategies devised by Tommy Dunne, Darragh Egan or Eamon O'Shea and designed to assist in Tipperary's fluidity in attack, begin with the goalkeeper. Hogan has learned a hell of a lot in two seasons.
Testimony to his popularity amongst the supporters was the massive throng which surrounded him at the open training session seeking his autograph in Semple Stadium. Brian was signing for two hours and he did so with a great big smile and a willingness to make each and every kid who approached him, feel a million dollars – just like his Dad did for a generation of Tipp kids, three decades ago.
The Hogan name remains a central part of Tipperary hurling lore going back to the days of Ken's father Hubie – a former player, referee, Chairman of the county and north boards and after whom the Hogan Cup in north Tipperary is named. Then, we had All-Star Ken playing so key a role on the field; as manager to senior and u-21 Tipperary teams; as a newspaper columnist and commentator with both local and national radio; and as coach to many club teams as well. Now we have Brian doing his thing for club and county and hoping to follow his fathers footsteps by winning an All-Ireland senior hurling medal on Sunday on the field of play.
Brian and Ken have already followed in the line of many other famous Tipperary father and son combinations to have won All-Ireland senior hurling medals – another proud tradition maintained. But, to do so on the field of play would be a bit extra special.
All of Tipperary wish Brian the very best in keeping a clean sheet on Sunday.