Alan Brogan: Jim knew I was having a new baby and that I had to be home
Published 19/05/2015 | 02:30
Alan Brogan doesn't want to think that far ahead but he knows he's probably on his last lap as a Dublin footballer.
But over a winter and spring spent considering his inter-county future, he always knew he wanted one more shot before his days in blue came to an end.
It was just a matter of ensuring that everything else in his life would allow it. The arrival of a baby boy in March means his life is busier than ever but the lure of more silverware ensured that even when football was taking a back seat, he was tipping away in the background.
"I always in the back of mind knew that I did want to come back but obviously, when you get to my age and you have a young family, there are other elements of your life that you have to take care of as well.
"We all know how big a commitment it is, with the time and effort that has to go into it.
"I have the support of my wife and the support of my family to give me the time to do it.
"Taking the couple of months off, even though I was tipping away with the club, the commitment isn't as intense as when you're away with the county team.
"I think Jim (Gavin) understands that in order to get the best out of yourself on the pitch, the rest of your life has to be in order.
"He was supportive like that. He knew I was having a new baby and that I had to be at home when I was having the new baby.
"Maybe he gave me a bit of leeway that other fellas might not have gotten and I'm obviously grateful for that. Now hopefully I can repay that."
At 33, he knows the end is near. Had Dublin won the All-Ireland last year that might have been it. And even if Dublin go all the way to a final this time around, his inter-county career likely has a maximum of just over four months to run.
That brings an urgency and also a sense of freedom. He makes no secrets about his intentions for the year. He wants to play. And he wants to win.
"Look, it probably will (be his last year). I haven't really thought about that to be honest with you. That's probably something I'll decide come the end of September hopefully. As each year goes pass it does get harder and harder - it's certainly coming close anyway.
"I still think I'm good enough to play. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here. If I thought I was going to be a sub for the whole championship, would I have come back? Probably not. I came back to get into the team.
"At this stage of my career, I'm coming back to try and win an All-Ireland. It doesn't always work like that but I believe we have a team strong enough to compete.
"It didn't work out the way we wanted last year but we saw in the past, it has proved very difficult to put All-Irelands back-to-back.
"When you win the All-Ireland, it might paper over some of the cracks that are there. But it's not until those cracks are exposed, you don't really understand them and I think that the game against Donegal did expose some of our weaknesses that we needed to sort."
Donegal shone a light on Dublin's defensive make-up and while there are learnings, the core philosophies will remain.
"I don't think his (Jim Gavin's) approach to the game has changed.
"Obviously, you can tell how competitive he is and how much he wants to win and how much passion he has for Dublin football.
"That's always been there whether we've won or lost.
"Obviously we'd have to look at some things which happened in the All-Ireland semi-final last year and make sure they don't happen again, like conceding three goals.
"If you conceded three goals in any All-Ireland semi-final, quarter-final or final you're going to be doing well to win the game.
"I think that's the critical thing that came out of it, just to shore up to make sure we don't concede three goals again. If we do that we'll have a very good chance against anyone."