Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

GAA: Aidan 'kenny believe it

Fogarty the Cat that got the cream

Every sport loves to celebrate the arrival of new heroes to adorn and embellish the game.

Every sport loves to celebrate the arrival of new heroes to adorn and embellish the game.

Previously unheralded and unsung, Kilkenny's Aidan Fogarty chose his moment to perfection in the Cats' stunning All Ireland final win over old adversaries Cork before another full house in Croke Park.

This was supposed to be Cork's day, a September afternoon when they would take their place in the sport's roll of honour by completing the prestigious and so elusive three in a row.

Their players were all household names, men who had over the years made Croke Park their second home while Kilkenny had been forced to take a back seat.

It wasn't a scenario that rested easy with Kilkenny boss Brian Cody who remains as competitive now as he was in his illustrious playing days.

As for Fogarty, being named man of the match was something he had never given a second thought.

His season had been punctuated with a series of niggling injuries. Just to get playing against Cork was his goal. The rest is history.

"All this is a huge surprise. Because of the run of injuries I never looked too far ahead. Getting my place on the team for the final was my target, nothing else.

"It's just something everyone in Kilkenny dreams about, hurling in an All Ireland final, and it meant so much to our fans.

"I've never seen them enjoy a victory as much since the 80's when I was a lad sitting up in the stand looking down," he smiled.

Many will regard Fogarty (24) as an overnight sensation. He joined the senior panel three years ago and made his first start against Dublin the following year.

And yet he was in danger of being bypassed again this season when injury ruled him out of the Leinster Championship.

He returned for the quarter-final against Galway and scored a goal. His goal and three points from play against Cork in the final will guarantee his place in Kilkenny folklore.

Of his meteoric rise he said: "It took me a while to find my feet, but there's so much talent in this squad and so many lads to pick from. If you get a chance you know you have to take it as it mightn't come around again."

Despite his dreadful run of bad injuries, Kilkenny boss Brian Cody never for one moment lost faith in the man who upstaged some of the sport's biggest names to be named man of the match against Cork.

When he made the most of a half chance in the opening half to fire the Cats ahead at a crucial stage it seemed as if he was the coolest man in the entire stadium.

It was opportunism of the highest order and on a day when scores were at a premium he added three points for good measure.

No wonder manager Cody was suitably impressed.

"We've been waiting on him to take off for he had a brilliant league campaign and then because of injury wasn't able to tog out until the Galway match. He's grease lightning, a super hurler and his accuracy is unreal.

"Any of the other lads will tell you he's a nightmare to mark," he said.

It was typical of the 24 year old electronics engineer that in his hour of glory his first thoughts were with his family and club mates in Urlingford.

He said: "I suppose in this game you have to take the good with the bad. I've had my share of injuries but the support of my family and club colleagues always kept me going when things were hard.

"There were times when I didn't make the team or I was out injured and Brian Cody was always very positive and supportive.

"The amount of talent on the team is unreal. There's 33 lads in there all fighting for places, a lot of them too have been there a long time so you just have to hang in and hope you get your chance."

Getting your chance is one thing. Taking it and upstaging all the big names is another as Aidan Fogarty demonstrated so tellingly and devastatingly on the biggest stage of all last Sunday.

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