Fogarty won’t rule out an inter-county position

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By Steven Kelly

Aidan ‘Taggy’ Fogarty has been there and done it all. The former ace corner forward has won everything with ‘the cats’. Not only has Fogarty a highly impressive 8 All-Ireland medals, but the Emeralds clubman also received the man of the match award in the 2006 All-Ireland Final victory over Cork. Fogarty came in under the radar and the Urlingford native hit an impressive 1-3 from open play that day. Fogarty himself believes his ability to improve as a player came from his work ethic growing up: “I grew up on a farm, it was quite hectic. It was me, my two older brothers and my sister. We all helped out. I guess having hard working parents helped as I got older. We were quite religious and went to mass every week. I suppose it was a normal enough life. I threw myself into everything I guess, particularly hurling. Unfortunately, my mother passed away when I was 17, so I guess I wanted to live life to the full and be involved in work at home and with my club Emeralds as much as possible.”

Being from Urlingford, Fogarty attended Thurles CBS where he would learn a lot of his hurling. Being from a Kilkenny man going to school in Tipperary, there were no problems as Kilkenny were successful at the time. He said: “To be honest it was great craic; lucky enough for me Kilkenny were winning at the time, so it was fine. I only live 20 minutes from Thurles, so it was easier for me to attend school there.” Fogarty had a huge appetite for hurling and being from Kilkenny it was a huge part of his life. Getting to play for his county required a lot of dedication and hard work. The Emeralds man believes it was the simple things that made the difference: “As I said, we had a farm at home so I used to always have the hurl with me and I would puck the ball up against the shed. It was all I knew I suppose. My uncle Pa Dylan played for Kilkenny and my parents loved the hurling. I was asked to play in the street leagues where there would have been many teams from the area playing each other, so I started playing in those games and my game went from strength to strength. Funny enough I played on all the school teams wing-back, but then I was put in corner- forward and it just went from there really. It was funny, I used to be sick from school, but I would still go in at 4 pm and get the bus to the matches.”

Fogarty himself believes his eagerness to play for Kilkenny was heightened when he attended an All-Ireland Final in 1993: “I was in the Cusack Stand and saw the likes of DJ Carey and PJ Delaney play. PJ scored 1-2 that day and I said to myself from there I have to get myself out there as soon as possible. Did I think I would play for my county? Honestly, probably not. I knew I was good at it, but I wasn’t sure if I would get to that level. I loved going to the games. Having food out the back of the car. It is those moments you always remember and I would say I appreciated it more now than I did then.” Fogarty was drafted into the Kilkenny set up in late 2003 making his debut in the National Hurling League in 2004. He said: “Oh God, I remember it. I remember I got the chance to play with my idol DJ Carey. To me, he was like God. He could turn a game on a sixpence. I remember the full-forward line was myself, Henry Shefflin and DJ Carey. It was an honour to play with those guys. To play championship with your idols another being my own club man Derek Lyng.”

Fogarty was involved with a Kilkenny side that dethroned Cork in that 2006 Final. Cork were going for 3 in a row at the time. The intensity of the Kilkenny training sessions was ultimately a hallmark of their success. What was that environment like? Fogarty said: “To be honest it was a great place to be. Those 15 a-side games told you a lot about certain players. Those A vs B games were very intense. Brian Cody would barely blow his whistle. Lads would be fighting for that jersey. I always marked Jackie Tyrell in training. We had some great battles. If a row broke out at training that made it even better. It got you buzzed up for it. Coming out of those training sessions, we knew we were ready for the big games. I believe that Brian Cody was the reason we were so successful. He wasn’t the best at micromanaging, but he cared about all the lads. If you had a problem you could go to him 100 per cent. He had his formula for managing and it worked.” Fogarty was exposed to many characters throughout his career. He recalls one story in particular: “I remember in 2013, we had just been beaten by Cork in Thurles in an All-Ireland quarter-final. We headed out to Kilkenny for an afternoon. We used to always call Henry Shefflin, “King Henry”. We used to all kneel to him. I remember some of the lads went down to another pub. Henry thought we were all going to one place in particular and ran in shouting I am the king. There was nobody there, only 2 old men. It was a classic Henry story. Very funny altogether.”

Having the characters in the dressing room and an iconic figure in Cody allowed Kilkenny to dominate at the top, but they did have a key ingredient for success. Forgarty said: “We had a great pedigree at minor and U21 level which helped us. Brian got the best out of us in fairness. We had a great county board that looked after us. I think the key for us was that nothing ever got out of control, we were always kept grounded, so that kept us hungry for more. And even the media side of things was controlled. Nothing over the top was ever mentioned. We were completely focused on the job at hand. It was our culture and philosophy and all those factors fed into the success of the team as a whole.” Fogarty would go on and star in the 2006 All-Ireland Final against Cork. It was his first start in a final. He bagged 1-3; which ultimately proved the difference on the day. Fogarty himself remembers that year vividly: “I remember that year clearly. I had broken my collarbone. I was after having a good league. I didn’t play in Leinster at all. Brian said I was still in his plans, which gave me a huge lift. I played in the semi-final and then said to myself, “if I do well for 50-55 minutes in the final I will be happy”. It came together for me that day. I touched the ball only 6 times I would say in the game, but it worked out well. I was over the moon. The whole day I felt calm and I suppose that allowed me to perform. I was just relaxed and didn’t overthink my performance too much.”

Over the years Fogarty came up against many tough defenders. One defender he believes stood out amongst the lot: “Believe it or not, Paddy Stapelton of Tipperary. We had some great battles over the years. I always found that I would have very little time on the ball with him around.” Fogarty was very much a classic example of a corner forward. He was quick and could score. He believes that having a good work rate is the best tonic for success: “If you don’t work hard you won’t give yourself that opportunity to flourish. It was always something I tried to do. You see the forwards today all work hard, on and off the ball. It is something I always did regardless. I would have great admiration for that current Limerick team. Their forwards are all very hard working and their success to date is a result of that.” Off the field, the environment of being an inter-county player was equally as important. Fogarty looks at small things that made a difference to him over the years: “This is mad, but I used to wear CIT socks under my Kilkenny ones. It is where I went to college and it was something I always did. I always sat in the same seat on the bus and beside the same players in the dressing room, so I guess I was quite superstitious.”

Fogarty still plays club hurling and in 2020 was asked to take part in the Dancing with the Stars programme on RTE One. He said: “It was an interesting experience for me for sure. Having a hurling background stood to me, but I had no dancing experience. The one thing I would say is that the hours you put in on that show between the routine’s and interviews is something else. Everybody was supportive of each other and it was great to meet people from different backgrounds. In fairness, the lads in Kilkenny didn’t give me too much stick and were supportive of me. I thought when I got the call initially that it was a prank, but to be involved with it was fantastic and it was an experience that I will never forget.” Fogarty is now busy with media work and playing club hurling. He hasn’t ruled out an inter-county position: “Going forward I wouldn’t rule it out. I was a selector with my club at home. If and when the time is right I would consider it in the future.”