Returning general Alan Brogan increases Dublin's options
Published 07/04/2015 | 02:30
Brian Fenton was the latest young Dublin footballer to impress when he made his Allianz League debut last weekend.
The rangy Raheny forward, who plays for UCD and lined out at midfield for Dublin's All-Ireland-winning U-21s last year, is regarded as something of a late bloomer.
He took his opportunity with both hands, scoring 1-1 and showed impressive physicality and work rate against Monaghan, and the depth that Dublin can call upon was further underlined when it was revealed that Alan Brogan will rejoin the squad this week.
It was prematurely reported that Brogan (33) was set to retire after Dublin's All-Ireland semi-final defeat, something he was forced to immediately deny.
Since then he has changed jobs and recently became a dad for a second time, factors that were believed to have delayed a decision on his inter-county future.
With no sign of him to date there was growing speculation that he might become the latest big-name GAA veteran to call it a day.
But Dublin manager Jim Gavin revealed on Sunday that "the plan for a long time has been that Alan (would) join us after the normal rounds of the National League."
Brogan has continued to line out with his club St Oliver Plunkett-Eoghan Ruadh and while it is unlikely that he will be parachuted straight back into competitive action, the news that he has committed to the Blues for a 14th season is not good for their rivals. Brogan may not offer the scoring potential that Kerry are hoping will come from Colm Cooper's long-awaited return and, given Dublin's underage conveyor belt, does not provide the blistering pace of so many of his younger team-mates.
But it is only four years since he was Footballer of the Year and his talents are particularly suited to the current era.
Defensive tactics have now become king and Brogan still has the football instinct and craft to make the sort of run or devastating pass that will unlock a packed defence.
What he lacks in his legs is more than made up for by his skill and football intelligence, and the innate ability he has to create time on the ball for himself.
Dublin may have won three All-Ireland U-21 titles in the last five years but none of those young heroes has yet proven themselves to be a new attacking general at senior level so there still clearly a role for Brogan, with 62 championship appearances to date, to fill.
Proof that age is no impediment is already shown by several of his team-mates, not least Denis Bastick, who is also 33 but enjoying a renaissance at midfield this season.
"Last year was pretty disastrous, injury-wise, for myself," Bastick said yesterday of the shoulder surgery, medial knee ligament injury and hamstring problems he suffered in 2014.
"But I looked at myself and what I could bring to the team, and I sat down with Jim. If he wanted me that was another thing as well.
"It was a case of if I can get back to top condition, and feel that I can contribute to the team in any shape or form, then that was what I wanted to do," Bastick added and Brogan clearly feels the same way.