Tuesday 24 October 2017

Brennan is driven by desire to regain Sam

Rory Kerr

FOLLOWING Kilkenny's Leinster exit to Dublin two weekends ago, much was made of Tommy Walsh's actions after the game when the eight time All-Ireland winner stayed behind to sign autographs with the trauma of defeat still so raw.

His actions were certainly commendable, but equally important is how one reacts in triumph.

Take Ger Brennan, who endeared himself to the Maurs team in last year's last-16 championship encounter in Lawless Park.

It was a game Maurs were well in contention to win up until the last ten minutes when a Diarmuid Connolly goal sealed the win for St Vincent's.

As such a twelve point defeat would have been hard to take but in the mind of Maurs coac Alan Durnin, Brennan showed his character after the whistle.

'He was very gracious to the lads after the full time whistle and it's rare enough in the game. And any of our lads who have come in contact with him through the Dublin panel like Ciaran Reddin and Vinny Whelan have remarked how good he is with the young players and how welcome he makes them feel.'

Brennan was back in Swords last week to pick up the keys to his all new SEAT Leon from Michael Barrable Motors in Airside.

The school teacher, as Durnin says, is a humble guy and ahead of next weekend's provincial decider with the auld enemy, Meath, he certainly wasn't getting carried away.

'You can't dwell on past games. If you lose, you can get depressed by things and if you win everyone is patting you on the back and you get carried away with yourself, so it's a case of getting the right balance in your emotions after the game,' he says.

And Brennan certainly wasn't taking too much out of the Kildare game, the second time Dublin have inflicted a sixteen point defeat on Leinster opposition in the space of a month.

'We were very slow to start. They had got 1-2 very quickly so that's a big part of our game we need to focus on going into Sunday and offensively we had a lot of goal chances we didn't convert.

'We missed a lot of frees and in defence we gave away that early goal and need to tighten things up'.

The Dublin defender sat out last year's decider with Meath which saw Dublin collect their 51st provincial decider, but he remembers the 2010 championship clash very well, when Meath hit the Dubs for five goals.

On a day when Dublin's defence was badly exposed by a pacy Meath attack, Dublin's 18 game unbeaten run in the pro-vince came to a shuddering halt.

It was certainly a turning point in Dublin's development and the Metropolitans are again starting to look unbeatable in Leinster. Nonetheless Brennan is not underestimating the challenge awaiting Dublin.

'It's a provincial final and we've been working towards it all year. It's a level playing field and past achievements don't really matter too much and every team believes they have a chance.

'Traditionally Meath are a team that never gives up and they will be fighting until the bitter end. They have a lot of experience at the moment and Damien Carroll is someone who did well in that 2010 game in terms of running at us'.

This is Brennan's sixth championship season with Dublin having made his debut in the 2007 Leinster final as a late replacement against Laois.

Durnin, for one isn't surprised, as he believes Brennan is everything you could want in a centre back.

'He brings a lot of leadership to the half back line. Your centre half back has to be a leader number one, and have belief. His role is to hold the middle and he lets the likes of James McCarthy and Jack McCaffrey express themselves down the wing. His strength is the ability to win dirty breaking wall.'

It is a testament to Brennan that he has now played under three different managers in Paul Caffrey, Pat Gilroy and current boss, Jim Gavin.

Nonetheless, he insists the biggest influence on his career is former Dublin selector Mickey Whelan.

'Along with my father PJ, Mickey has been a huge influence for me. Words don't do justice to any squad he is involved in.'

'He sees things before other people see them. He'd work on tactical formations in terms of curbing other player's influences and he is also good at bringing out the best in players. He has been very helpful to me in my career to date.

'I had him as manager at the Dublin development squads at 16, 17 and minors and then as a senior club manager for four or five years and in the Dublin set up until last year so I've had him for ten years.'

Fingal Independent