This is Ken Hogan's seventeenth year playing senior championship hurling for Lorrha. He made his debut as a goalkeeper with the team in May 1980 even though all his play had been outfield up to then. It was as a fullback he helped Birr Community School to two Leinster Schools 'A' titles in 1979 and 1980. In the former year the team was beaten by St. Flannan's in the final.
It was only by chance that he became a goalkeeper. In the first round of the 1980 championship against Kilruane, Lorrha's regular goalkeeper, John Shelly, was sent to the line and wasn't available for the next outing against Silvermines at Cloughjordan on May 15. Brian Mannion became convinced that Ken would make a suitable substitute. As he was only 16 years old at the time, Brian went to see the father, Hubie, and, after some persuasion, secured permission to have Ken play in goals. He duly did, never looked back and has never failed to turn out for the club during the intervening years.
It was a fortuitous development for the young player. His displays with the Lorrha seniors sufficiently impressed the county minor selectors and he was drafted in to the side as the regular goalkeeper and went on to win an All-Ireland minor medal. His outstanding ability was recognised at the end of the year when he was given the Player of the Year award because 'his consistent top class displays in goal for county and club made him an automatic choice.'
Ken progressed to the county under-21 team in 1982 and was goalkeeper in 1983 and 1984 as well. The team won a Munster final in 1983 only to succumb to Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. In Centenary Year there was the disappointment of losing the All-Ireland to Kilkenny In the same year Ken had the added disappointment of losing the county final when Lorrha were beaten by Moycarkey-Borris.
It was obvious that Ken's talent would soon receive higher recognition and this came in 1987. The new management had taken over for the 1986/87 league and when the panel was announced for the 1987 championship debut against Kerry, Ken was named as goalie. From then until he retired from inter-county hurling after defeat by Clare in the 1994 championship, he never missed a championship outing for Tipperary, playing twenty-six in all and winning five Munster titles, two All-Irelands and two National Leagues
Is he satisfied with the achievements of these years? 'I suppose I'm not. As a team we didn't win enough. Looking back I think we should have won another All-Ireland.. Maybe it was we hadn't the necessary ruthlessness or, perhaps, the greatness to win a third. We lacked the consistency of performance required to win. And yet, when you put our achievements into a wider perspective our lot was not dissimilar to that of Galway, Cork and Kilkenny over the same period. They also found it difficult to win a third.'
There were a number of highlights during these years. One of the most memorable was playing in the 1987 Munster final, the replay and the extra time. Killarney was magical and it recalled for him another great occasion for Tipperary in 1949 when another Lorrha man, Tony Reddin, was in goals. That great year was capped for him by winning an All-Star Award. The winning of the league in 1988 against Offaly was particularly pleasing. Living so close to the county, having gone to school in Birr and knowing most of his opponents made the victory something special. Naturally, the All-Irelands are highlights, especially when beating Limerick, Cork -after two games -, Galway and Kilkenny on the way to victory in 1991
There were also disappointments. One of the most bitter was losing the 1988 All-Ireland. It was his first senior All-Ireland and defeat was particularly painful. Another lowlight was the loss of the 1992 league final against Limerick, after enjoying a substantial lead at half-time. Reflecting on this defeat he believes it was the beginning of the decline of the team, a crack in its invincibility. It was the first time they had been troubled by Limerick and the team went on to lose to Cork in the first round of the championship in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Since 1994 Ken has confined his hurling to Lorrha but has continued his involvement with the county team in the role of selector. He is particularly pleased with Lorrha' s progress this year after an inauspicious start. Winning another north championship today would be tremendously pleasing and would put Lorrha in the proper frame of mind for the county championship, the holy grail that had eluded Lorrha up to now.
North Tipperary Senior Hurling final replay September 15, 1996