Tuesday 22 August 2017

Brogan: 'I'm far from finished, I'll fight tooth and nail to get back into the 15'

Bernard Brogan at yesterday’s launch of the #BehindTheBall campaign which will see SuperValu donate 55,000 footballs. Photo credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Bernard Brogan at yesterday’s launch of the #BehindTheBall campaign which will see SuperValu donate 55,000 footballs. Photo credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Bernard Brogan tells the story about the build-up to last year's All-Ireland final replay with Mayo.

Manager Jim Gavin pulls him aside and the news isn't good. The speculation that has built all week proves to be true. He isn't starting and neither is Michael Darragh Macauley.

Dublin's Bernard Brogan. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Bernard Brogan. Photo: Sportsfile

"Jim pulled me aside before the All-Ireland final and said, 'Yourself and Michael Darragh are starting from the bench. It's something different we want to do for this game. We want to do something different.'

"Obviously, you're massively disappointed. An All-Ireland final - God. But, I grabbed Michael Darragh before - who was equally upset - and said, 'It's going to be named now in five minutes, just step up high. When they look at you' … because we would be two senior members of the group… so we just said show no sign of weakness. It was just something I wanted to do.

"I just felt if this was going to happen, try and add as much positivity to the group in that situation," says the SuperValu ambassador. "Did it do anything for the team? Maybe not. But I thought for me, it gave me energy."

Reaction

So he took it on the chin and made the best of it. And, as it turned out, Dublin secured back-to-back All-Ireland titles. But he admits that might not have always been the way.

Earlier in his career, the reaction might have very different. Pat Gilroy saw the potential in him but the St Vincent's man also identified the weaknesses in his game.

And as if to emphasise the point, Gilroy left Brogan out of the side and even played him at wing-back in training games to show him how he could contribute more to the side.

"I probably would have reacted a lot differently (if he was dropped earlier in his career). Two years it took me to get into the team. In 2008 or 2009, calls were made that I would have been very annoyed about.

"I never go over the top. I'm not that type of individual. But there is that ego piece when you're younger when you believe you're the best in the business and you've every right to play.

"As you get a bit older, you learn your lesson.

"In 2010, Pat would have asked a lot of questions of me. I didn't believe I was overly selfish. But maybe before that, I took on shots that weren't the right decisions.

"I believed I was the best man to take that shot on, I always thought I was the best man to take that shot on. It's a positive and a negative.

"But Pat, we spent a lot of time in 2010 going down through it. He wanted me to work harder. He wanted me to bring more people in the game.

"And when I did that, when I gave the ball off, I actually got more ball back. And I ended up playing better as a whole. And that was a turning point for me personally."

The disappointment continued this year. Dublin got their championship off to a winning start but Brogan, who is now 33, was left on the bench against Carlow, only appearing in the second half.

He's still going after it as hard as ever though, changing his body to adapt to the needs of the modern game.

Over the winter, he shed around 3kg in a bid to help him get around the pitch more. Since 2010, he reckons that he's dropped roughly a stone in weight as the game moved away from power.

"I actually thought I was moving quite well (before the Carlow game)," says Brogan, who won't be drawn on team-mate Diarmuid Connolly's suspension or possible appeal.

"I was gearing up and I was training to play. I was fighting for the jersey, like I've always done.

"And I was moving quite well. The last few months, I've felt I've been going well. I've had no knocks, no injuries. I've trained every session.

"I've shipped a couple of kilogrammes, just to be able to get around the park. As we know, the game has evolved with a lot more running, a lot more movement.

"The inside forward line has to come out and get involved or else they'll disappear. So the game for the full-forward line has changed a bit.

"So I'm feeling competitive. I feel like I'm in the mix for the next day. I'll be fighting for a jersey. I'm not happy just to be part of the system, to roll on for 15 minutes. I'm there to be competitive, to play. That's the way you have to be."

Dublin face the winners of Westmeath and Offaly next. Brogan's happy to do whatever job Jim Gavin wants him too, but insists that shouldn't be mistaken for him settling for an impact sub role.

"Whatever the role has to be, it's still an honour to put on a Dublin jersey and any chance you get to it is an honour.

"But I'm far from finished. I'm far from done with it. And I'll be fighting tooth and nail to get back into that 15 for the next day."

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