Brady out to make up for lost time as Dublin eye league glory
Switching from hurling to football is hard enough. Switching to Dublin football is more difficult than most. Throw in a second serious knee injury and that Tomas Brady is in the reckoning with Jim Gavin at all is an achievement in itself.
Brady's switch to the footballers was over almost as soon as it started. A second cruciate ligament injury, this time to the 'good' knee, brought his 2013 season to an end.
When he returned last year, he was trying to break into a team that had won an All-Ireland and were spoiled with talent.
His championship was limited to two appearances off the bench last summer. This time around and with Sunday's league final on the horizon, he's looking for a more central role.
"The first year I was with the footballers (2013) I missed out on the championship. I'd just torn the cruciate before that," he said.
"Last year I was just back sort of finding my feet. You don't have the luxury like with other counties where you might get more of an opportunity - it's so competitive in Dublin that you don't get as much game-time coming back from injury.
"I've a good 14 months of training under my belt so that'll stand me in good stead coming into the summer to hopefully feature a lot more.
"Every league campaign when you're trying to break into this team is important. I think this year probably more than the last two years, guys have got an opportunity to stake a claim so I think hopefully I'll put the hand up and do the best I can in championship."
Given the depth of options available to Gavin, Brady's switch to the big ball game was something of a surprise, especially as he had been a pillar of the Dublin side Anthony Daly built.
But Brady is a trusted lieutenant of Gavin's going back to their U-21 days and the manager clearly sees something in the Na Fianna man.
And given Dublin's more pragmatic approach this time around, Brady could be the kind of player Gavin will feel can add some extra security to a side whose openness proved their downfall last year.
Their latest test comes in the shape of Cork, whom Brady describes as the "form team in the country" and the most consistent side around.
"They had some very tough fixtures in the league, four up the north. I think they have adapted their style of play and learned a lot of lessons from the Munster final last year," said Brady.
"They are not as defensive as some teams but they do bring some of their forwards back and try break at pace.
"They racked up a big scoreline. Four goals against Donegal is a feat in itself. Any game between Dublin and Cork is always competitive."
Dublin were less than convincing in their win over Monaghan in the semi-final but Brady was pleased with the composure shown.
"It really test guys character when games are tight. When you are winning by a bit of a margin in the last few minutes the pressure is off but that tests guys' skills under pressure," he said.
"I was encouraged by lads getting on the ball, sometimes lads might shy away from it so it's a good test that way. The league games up to now we've learned a lot about concepts of play and what works and what doesn't.
That win over Monaghan means a small piece of history awaits Dublin on Sunday. They could become the first team from the county to win three leagues on the bounce but they are already looking down the line at the locks they will likely have to unpick later in the year.
"It is up to us to find a way to break it down. We're working on it in training and trying to be creative because we know we are going to involved in a couple of games this summer where there'll be 13 men behind the ball," said Brady.
"It is up to us to find ways to break it down and adapt. At certain moments in games it has worked and at other times it hasn't, if you look at the Derry and Tyrone games. We probably failed there. Some things have worked and it's about building on that."