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Bernard has on another heart set Sam scalp

BY any conceivable standards, Bernard Brogan has had a profitable couple of years. He's pocketed an All-Ireland medal, a Footballer of the Year award and a couple of All Stars in that timeframe so targets for 2012 aren't easily compiled.

There have been noticeable changes to his game, however, and general improvement rather than tangible goals (along with getting match fit) are where his attentions lie at the moment.

In the 2010 championship, he scored 3-42 (0-17f), a figure which fell to 0-29 (0-18f) last season but a more rounded, team player emerged in Dublin's crowning year, contributing vital assists both in the fraught All-Ireland semi-final defeat of Donegal and then, all-importantly, in the final itself.

What then, can we expect from Bernard in 2012?

"Same as last year," he reckons. "Get involved in the team and work as hard as you can. I've always found that if I work hard and I'm not lazy, I get on a lot of ball and things happen for me. So it's about getting my fitness levels up to a level where I'm able to work hard."

Specifically, Brogan targets facets of his game which come less naturally and he finds that, in turn, the scoring part looks after itself.

"I'm trying to get tackles in in the full-forward line," he explains. "When I do that, I seem to do well. I spend a lot of time working on kicking and free-taking -- it makes my percentage accuracy levels much higher. I'm not working at the moment so I have that bit of extra time to let the body recover and do the extra sessions.

"I'm hoping to have a bit of time to put a lot of effort into my kicking and get my accuracy levels up again this year."

He's not one for predicting how his figures will stack up game-to-game, though.

"Whenever I set targets for scoring, for some reason I never get them," he notes. "It's a superstition of mine. If anybody asks me what I think I'll score, I'd never say. It's something I've had over the years. All I do is write down three things I want to achieve in a game.

"They're usually about working hard and getting a few tackles in. Do something easy with my first ball or try and do something positive with it.

"If I can get an early score, as a forward, that's the best you can get. If I can get those couple of things ticked, my game tends to look after itself.

"Those are the things that lift the other players. If you get a tackle in or a block, it vibrates through the team and really lifts them.

"The lads would be open enough about saying it.

"When myself or Alan or Eoghan or Diarmuid get a tackle in or a turnover, it really lifts the team and that's what we really try and do."

While he's itching to get back, Dublin haven't missed Brogan's presence like once they might have.

On Saturday against Donegal, they finished without him, his brother Alan or the in-form Eoghan O'Gara in the full-forward line but fresh faces like Dean Kelly and Dean Rock came off the bench and made an impact.

"It's huge for us," he admits. "The lads that came in did really well. It's great for them but it's great for us as a team. If you have four or five lads who can come in and do a job, it makes the competitive nature of it that much stiffer.

"It was hugely beneficial last year to have so many players playing so well in training, week in week out.

"The 'B' team were pushing the first 15 right throughout the year. That's the thing that got us going.

"We all know about Kilkenny and their training games," he adds. "That's where we got it from. But you can see it now, new lads are stepping up. Because they're playing well in training games, they're confident that they can step up and play straight away in matches. You can see there is a lot of confidence in those lads, the likes of Dean Kelly and Dean Rock.


"Dean Rock had a great Sigerson campaign. They're just growing in confidence. And Pat has loads of trust in young players. If lads are playing well, he gives them a shot. You can see that in the likes of Mick Fitzsimons, Rory O'Carroll, Kevin Nolan. He gave them a shot and they paid him back with an All-Ireland.

"Lads know if they're playing well, they'll get a shot. And that means the training games are going to be really tough."