THE half-time whistle had yet to blow and his game was done. Sitting on the bench as your team mates take part in a battle for the ages is not exactly what any footballer wants to be doing.
Thinking, wondering, fretting, hoping and, above all else, impotent to do anything about what's going on out on the most famous pitch in the land. The pitch where dreams are made. The pitch where he's starred before. The pitch where he'll star again. What he didn't know then -- what he couldn't know -- was that this was just the beginning of his spell on the side-lines.
He didn't think it was all that bad an injury at the time. His calf did swell up pretty seriously in the aftermath of the game. By the following Thursday, however, Eoin Brosnan was sitting on a bike feeling pretty good about the injury. When he came back from a holiday in Spain he got back jogging. In the week before the County Championship third round clash with East Kerry he felt he was nearly back to full capacity as he strode up and down the familiar surrounds of the training pitch on Lewis Road.
And then disaster. With just days until the first big game of the autumn campaign something didn't feel quite right. A call to Vince Casey and a visit to Dr Eanna Falvey later and it soon became apparent that not everything was right. His calf was torn. In two places. It meant he missed the East Kerry game. It meant he missed the Austin Stacks game. In all Brosnan was out of action for nine weeks. There was a chance he could have played a part in the quarter-final. He felt ready.
In the end the management team opted, with victory assured, to play it safe. After the match team boss Noel O'Leary declared that Brosnan would play the following Saturday in the O'Donoghue Cup and so he did. He then played the semi-final against Laune Rangers, a full ten weeks after the All Ireland quarterfinal and impressed everyone with how fit he looked, how sharp he looked and how effective he was.
"After being out for nine weeks you'd always have worries about the fitness," he says.
"Having said that there was cycling done, there was swimming done, there was light jogging done as part of the rehab. So it wasn't a case of legs up for nine weeks, there was something being done the whole time. Not the same intensity obviously as county championship. That was something I was maybe a little worried about going into the Laune Rangers match. Would I be able to get up to the pace, because even beforehand, with all due respect to Fossa, it wasn't at the same level as championship standard."
The hunger Brosnan showed in his determination to get back into the fold, the discipline required to do so is all seriously impressive. He's been there, done that and won the medals after all. He made his debut in 1998. He came into a dressing room containing players with All Ireland medals in their back pockets. Players like Connie Murphy, Pat O'Shea and the current Crokes manager Noel O'Leary
He was there in 2000 for their championship success. The season that saw a certain C Cooper burst onto the scene. He was there for the emergence of guys like Brian Looney, Kieran O'Leary and Johnny Buckley. It has been, as he says himself, a rollercoaster journey.
"There's been highs, there's been lows, we lost three county finals, which were big lows and the team has reacted very, very well since. We've won two now and we're in our fourth final in-a-row, going for our third win in-a-row. It's been very rewarding," he says.
Rewarding, but damn hard work too. After a gruelling inter-county season, it's into an equally demand-
ing club campaign.
"Sometimes when the inter-county season is over our season [with the Crokes] is only really beginning," Brosnan explains. "You're in the county league. You're in the East Kerry championship. You're in the county championship, if you win that you're looking forward to the Munster club. These are all targets, realistic targets. It can be tiring obviously, it can be demanding at home, but it's certainly rewarding."
After those three final losses to South Kerry, Dr Crokes and Brosnan are, naturally enough, drinking in with great relish their current success. It's a success that seems totally natural right now, but it's a success that wasn't always guaranteed for the Killarney outfit.
"Growing up you'd only have to be at home and they'd remind you that Crokes used to be intermediate there for a long, long time and that's not a long time ago, twenty five years ago," Brosnan recalls.
"It's not that long ago that county championships were a dream for this club. We've got ourselves to a level, through proper structures we've put in place and good players coming through and the like. We want to stay there. We look at the successful clubs and we want to be up there and we want to be up there consistently."
And to do so this is a club willing to think outside the box. Noel O'Leary and Vince Casey have brought a different sensibility to the job of manager than their hugely successful predecessor Harry O'Neill. They've gone outside the club to bring in Donie Buckley as a training resource. Buckley has proven both popular and successful at every team he's been involved with – Clare (as joint manager with Michael Brennan), Limerick (with Mikey Ned O'Sullivan) Kerry and now with the Crokes.
"Fair play to the lads bringing Donie on board was obviously a brave decision, because they were the management of the team and they identified how can we make this team better, how can we make this team more successful and probably the team needed something new because we've been on the road a long time and it was good to get that freshness," Brosnan continues.
"He hadn't been involved with the team previously and had no attachment to the club, had no agenda only to make this team better and fellas really bought into that. I think it's translating itself on to the pitch now."
Whether it translates in a county championship winning performance remains to be seen. The pundits and the bookies reckon it will. The thing is, as Brosnan is well aware, you just never know. Interestingly enough, Crokes opponents Dingle, are something of an unknown quantity to Brosnan. Sure they've met in the County League. The things is they've done so when Brosnan (and Colm Cooper and co) have been involved in the inter-county set-up. His information about the West Kerry men is second hand. Albeit from men he trusts implicitly – his team mates.
"Talking to the lads, they tackle very aggressively; they're very strong in the tackle," Brosnan says.
"To reach the next level you need to be a tough nice footballer and on that Dingle team they have those type of players in their numbers. The goals have reached the headlines it's up to us as a team and as a defence really to counteract that. I remember earlier this year after the Crossmaglen game, they got three goals against us, and I came away saying at that level you can't concede three goals and expect to win."
With Dingle averaging three goals a game over the course of this championship that's something that's going to play on Brosnan's mind this week. The worrying thing for Dingle? Despite that nine week break Brosnan is as good as ever.