February 05, 1993
Brian Corcoran - Cork's latest superstar
A Young Man With His Feet Firmly On The Ground.
Rooted most probably in the profound and sullen morass of professionalism and exaggerated commercialism, many fallen sports stars the world over have succumbed, one way or another, to the bloody bludgeon that is operated by the rip-offs and scams of the professional sports industry.
The same said system personified by agents and over ostentatious punters have categorically contributed to the demise of the likes of Tracey Austin in tennis, Mike Tyson in boxing and most recently snooker star Stephen Hendry who has been besieged by the outrageous demands of the professional game. Without tempting fate on Hendry's case, at just twenty four, the Scottish millionaire who has failed to capitalise on his world title victory last April, is still the world number one but success since then has been scant with little else left for him to conquer.
More appropriately in relation to Gaelic games, soccer has suffered at the gasping hands of this unrelenting business. The perfunctory trek of Lazio soccer star Paul Gascoigne has been well chronicled of late. His ill-manner betwixt his multi-million pound lifestyle not only suggests incompetence with wealth but also bad handling of pressure and fame. As little more than a spoiled brat with a big mouth, Gazza looks set to join the aforementioned set of professional sports fallen heroes and heroines.
With little success to use as an excuse for Gascoigne's behaviour, suffice to suggest that the 'fame game' and 'loadsamoney' has hindered the progress of his career. Thankfully for prodigies of relative equal talent and skill in Gaelic games, little by way of the exaggerated nonsense as stated, hinders progress. Nevertheless while the professional element may be missing, the fame and pressure aspect isn't as in isolated cases gaelic footballers and hurlers, while lapping it up have smothered under the blanket of fame and success. However, Cork hurling fanatics need not worry about the fate of their latest hurling sensation from Erin's Own.
Even if Brian Corcoran was an outstanding soccer player, it's unlikely that he would bother with the plethora of nonsense associated with the professional game. Soft spoken, modest yet polite, the nineteen year old automatic All-Star voices the views of the G.A.A. traditionalists. While the threat of professionalism continues to be eschewed by the powers that be, Corcoran incontrovertibly suggests that players shouldn't be payed for playing, neither should they be out of pocket. While the rugby profession has been gobbled up to semi- professionalism most notably since the 1990 World Cup with British teams tanning themselves in the tropics, Corcoran won't go so far as to criticise the archaic aspect of amateurism in Gaelic games either.
Hisshrug of the shoulders style is reflected in his modest outlook as a hurler on the county team. To use the old adage more, 'you're only as good as your last game', Corcoran outlines his approach further to suggest that one is never too sure of anything, especially in sport. Having already sampled the sweet success of All-Ireland glory with the county footballers, he backs up his argument with reference to the consoling words of one advisor following Cork's defeat at the hands of Kilkenny in 1988 when as a slight fifteen year old, Corcoran was told not to worry, "you've lots more time to win an All-Ireland hurling medal".
Three more years in the county colour as a Minor, Corcoran didn't lay hands on a hurling All-Ireland medal of any description. A football medal in 1991 when Corcoran operated at full back versus Mayo is cherished needless to say, however, having fallen in love with hurling, lack of All-Ireland success in his four year span with the Under 18's is regretted.
On two occasions, Kilkenny stood in the way on final day in Croke Park and defeat in last year's Senior final to the Cats is described by Corcoran as a heartbreaking experience. Consoling these setbacks by mapping out his long future with Cork receives no hearing as he harps back to that similar type of back patting in 1988. Since then his lifestyle has been far from that of a loser but more in the guise of a superstar. An All-Star award in December was imminent, it seemed, following a most successful first season in the Senor ranks. Along with a county title, but receipt of an automatic award was met with little shock of surprise.
While others may rise to the occasion with little gratitude, Corcoran was especially pleased. As someone who enjoyed the All-Star awards on T.V. since the Jimmy-Barry Murphy and John Fenton eras, it was somewhat of an ambition realised for the 'gentle giant' who stands six feet one inch high. Deriving from such prestigious recognition, he now finds it a little difficult to strike a balance between study and performing formal duties at various functions countywide. However, ambition to succeed in the academic field still remains a priority.
He began his primary education in the latter half of the seventies at Glouthaune National school before advancing to Midleton CBS where he won various medals as a dual player. In 1990 he matriculated to Cork RTC where he is studying a computer degree course. There he will spend two more years while attempting to divide his sporting talents with that of his computers. He points out that the role of his parents has been vital. His father John is an avid fan while his mother Nuala comes from a prestigious background locally. Her late father D.D. Sheehan was a founder member of the Erins Own club in 1964 and he was first Chairman of the club.
Brian's older brother John is renowned for his achievements on the playing fields also. He participated in All-Ireland hurling and football finals at Minor and Under 21 levels. At 23, he is now a regular panellist alongside Brian on the Cork Senior team. While Brian hesitates to document the lists and lists of influences, John Corcoran is considered as most influential. He introduced his younger brother to the game of hurling when he was an underage star with Erins Own. Brian also has a sister, twenty five year old Anne, who resides at the family home. Young Corcoran made his Senior county debut in last winters National Hurling League series. Started the Championship in his favourite position of centre half forward against Kerry, was switched to corner back for the Tipperary clash and after standing hip to hip and out hurling All-Starr Pat Fox has not looked back since.
A collar-bone injury in late Autumn sustained in the Munster club final against Kilmallock put him out of action for the last ten weeks. After a hectic year, few would dare to suggest that it was a blessing in disguise and beneath his shyness and modesty Corcoran might tend to agree. In between his itinery which sees him at countless functions week in week out, he enjoys a game of snooker, a round of golf or an evening in front of the television watching a film. The ecumenism of Christmas and the new Year, while bringing some rest also saw Corcoran out of training, it's down to some serious training as Brian puts emphasis on making it to Croke Park come September
While such incumbent demands seem tough, it has become somewhat of a ritual with Corcoran who is used to playing four matches a week separate from training duties. It forces questioning of his appetite for the game which he readily admits to have lost on occasion, however, over-exposure to both codes of the G.A.A. has not been a problem. Going back to the initial argument, too much exposure to the pressures of big time sporting activity has brought about the downfall of many. Even in Gaelic games, this horrible but sometimes inavoidable syndrome has etched many sporting epitaphs.
The ravages of emigration and the precocious ability of many young hurlers and footballers has landed them with call ups to the Senior ranks. Such pre-mature participation merely acts as a catalyst to retirement for many budding eighteen and nineteen years olds, however, Corcoran to the envy of many cash strapped and depopulated rural clubs, states that he was never forced to play. In fact, he dares to mention that he only played when he wanted to. Taking into consideration his commitment, that was most probably apt.
Luckily for him (not so for his beloved club) county champions Erins Own didn't enjoy much success during Corcoran's teething years. This year's county title victory over Na Piarsaigh was the club's most noted success during his time. But while success is always a tonic to vitalise interest and commitment among players and officials, Corcoran has always been a loyal member and come hell or high water, he will stay that way. Scoring of a whopping 0-44 en route to the county title, Corcoran sets his sights on involving himself in the club for the near and distant future.
Erin's Own just six miles east of the city incompasses the Little Rock, Brooklodge and Knockraha districts of Glouthaune. The waft of rural and cultural Irishness is fresh and amidst the high lift ethos of county stardom, Corcoran points out that the club comes first. He, along with Timmy Kelleher have been integral members of Fr. Michael O'Brien's recent plans, nevertheless commitment to Erin's Own was never left wanting. Football is also played at Glouthaune however, only at Junior level as hurling comes first in line with most G.A.A. outfits east of the city
Corcoran doesn't see himself as a perspective county footballer yet attains an incessant interest in the affairs of Billy Morgan and co. Other sports attract passing attention, however both codes of the G.A.A have become part and parcel of the Corcoran lifestyle. A non-smoker and occasional drinker who abides by the curfews set by the managers and officials in question, the social-life of this well to do 19 year old bears little resemblance to that of his peers nevertheless it presents no obstacles to his enjoyment and satisfaction with his position.
In reply, he agitatedly retorts that he doesn't know what he's missing. It won't kill him. Best way to be Brian. The attitude is positive, the manner is polite. Recent murmuring along with the marble halls inside Croke Park have hinted at possible radical changes in the association as the social heartbeat of Irish society prepares itself for revolutionary times ahead. In city districts where 'foreign games' are about to assume dominance, the radicals are up in arms for change. Using the average hurler as an example for advance to the semi-professional stage, images of big-bucks, commercialism and Gazza become horribly vivid.
These radicals take people like Brian Corcoran for granted, believing that the majority of players like him are game for change. However, as advocates of the present set up, the new generation modelled by the impecible Brian Corcoran will continue to fuel the sometimes archaic but enjoyable, ragged yet competitive G.A.A. establishment forever and ever.
Taken from Hogan Standm magazine
5th February 1993
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