Saturday 10 December 2016

Comment: All Star in waiting Gary Brennan isn't just Clare's hero - he's an inspiration to every footballer in Ireland

Published 23/07/2016 | 17:26

One question that is often asked of Gaelic footballers is a simple one - why?

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Why did you kick that awful wide from a tight angle? Why did you pick up that reckless black card? Sometimes even, why do you play at all?

That third question could be asked of most players outside of the marquee counties who have legitimate All-Ireland and provincial title ambitions. It isn't hard to understand why players representing Dublin, Kerry or Tyrone would opt to make huge personal sacrifices in order to play inter-county football.

Read more: Kerry's farcical All-Ireland semi-final route highlights the absurdity of the football championship

But for those who toil in comparative obscurity, why do they come back year after year despite knowing that they are unlikely to achieve any great success?

Well, as Clare proved today in beating Roscommon to make the All-Ireland quarter-final for the first time, unlikely doesn't mean impossible.

Nobody embodies Clare's surge like captain Gary Brennan. The giant midfielder is the kind of hero that Gaelic football needs right now -  a player who is showing the rest of the county that it's possible to be the best in Ireland without playing for one of the top counties.

If the All Star awards were handed out today, Brennan would be nailed on in midfield and would be in with a good shout of picking up Footballer of the Year.

The giant midfielder was magnificent in Clare's comeback win in the Division 3 final and he has been equally instrumental in their run through the qualifiers.

He plays his position in a way that appeals to Gaelic football idealists - he can field the ball well, kick scores from long range and loves to power forward into opposition defence with the ball in hand.

But more than those tangible attributes is the belief he has infused throughout the GAA that football isn't entirely the same closed shop that it has been over the last five or so seasons.

And people have taken notice. The Clare captain is earning huge plaudits for his immense performances and the hope is that Brennan's exploits can inspire other players in similar set-ups to dig in, get back to training and try to emulate the Banner County's summer next season.










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