Eamonn Corcoran – Still hooked on active life

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2009/0304/1224242229285.html  

SPORTING PASSIONS – EAMONN CORCORAN Recently retired Tipperary
wing-back Eamonn Corcoran talks to Mark Rodden about the years devoted to swimming, Gaelic Football and soccer.

I DIDN’T go near hurling until I was nearly 12 or 13. My father is a swimming instructor in the Garda College so I suppose from the time we came out of nappies we would have been in the swimming pool nearly every day of the week.

My two brothers swam as well and it started to get competitive from the age of eight onwards. We swam with Tipperary and Munster.

It was a very disciplined sport. You’d be swimming at seven o’clock in the morning twice a week and then some days after school we’d go swimming again.

I won a schools’ All-Ireland. Breaststroke and freestyle would have been the strokes I competed in. From 13 up to under-16s I competed in the Community Games but from about 12 years on it would have been my third-choice sport behind hurling and soccer. My brothers stuck with it a bit longer but I rebelled against it – I think it was the early morning training that didn’t suit me too much.

But when we were doing the long-distance running in the hurling, the endurance work during the winter and the bleep tests, I always used to get on very well. I’d put that down to doing swimming from an early age.

Swimming would be a minority sport here. If you won an All-Ireland in Tipperary in swimming it wouldn’t be noticed and there wouldn’t be a huge interest in swimming in the county by any means.

In Ireland, swimmers don’t get the recognition for the training they put in. If you’re playing hurling you get an awful lot of recognition but these people get none even though they put in an awful lot more hours than you do in the hurling.

It’s a sport where you have to be really headstrong. I often compare it to marathon running, because when you’re training, you’re swimming up and down a pool on your own. When you look at what Michael Phelps did, winning eight gold medals at the Olympics in every different stroke, I don’t think it’ll ever be done again.

I played football with my club, JK Brackens, as well. But I was renowned for having two left feet and I don’t think they were too disappointed when I stopped playing.

In Mid-Tipperary, Loughmore have dominated the football but I was lucky enough to be on the team the one time we did beat them in the final.
Anything you win with the club is great and I can’t knock it because I’ve won very little with them in both codes.

Looking at Tipperary down through the years, a lot of the hurlers were super footballers. John Leahy played it, Brian O’Meara, David Kennedy, Paul Ormond, Colin Morrissey, Brendan Cummins, Eoin and Paul Kelly and Paul Curran.

A lot of the lads, if they put their mind to it, could have made it in both codes but nowadays it’s well-documented that I don’t think you can do both with the pressure that’s on you.

I always played soccer during the winter. I used to play with Templemore but now I play with Clonmore every Sunday morning since I gave up the hurling.

I remember Nicky English brought us over to Sunderland back in 2000 when Niall Quinn was playing there. Peter Reid was the manager and we got to train in their training ground and to watch them on the Sunday. Just to see the life of a professional soccer player was unbelievable. But, at the end of the day, GAA and soccer players, when they’re in season, they train at the same level – your life is devoted to it.

In soccer, the media are rating players and it’s the very same for GAA players. From January until September you’re in the spotlight and the pressure is on. Every day you go out people are monitoring your performance – "this lad is getting fast, this lad is getting slow". It’s like any sport, if there are 50,000 people watching it then there is going to be pressure. Whether you’re a professional soccer player or a GAA player, once you’re out there, you’re there to be praised or to be knocked.

Not a lot of people have asked me have I missed playing with Tipperary.
But at the moment, myself and a friend of mine have been training for a half-marathon and I play the soccer too. Brackens are back training twice a week so I’m still going five or six nights a week.

It’s very hard to train most of the year and then stop everything completely. When you’re competitive and you’re involved in sport you want to stay going. But I suppose probably the first time it’ll hit me will be the first round of the championship when I’m in the crowd going supporting Tipperary.

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