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Brennan: Kerry victory a boost

HE missed both the Kingdom collapse of last August and the Killarney crusade of Sunday last but you can probably say with some degree of certainty that Ger Brennan will get his own chance to stake a firm claim on Dublin's number six jersey this year.

The St Vincent's man was sidelined with a nagging lower back injury three days ago as a freshfaced yet gritty Dublin selection handed the All-Ireland champions -- albeit in a fairly unfamiliar guise -- their first defeat of the season.

Last year's All-Ireland quarter-final was different though, particularly for Brennan who remembers the day with more regret than most in Croke Park.

Suspended for his straight red card in the Leinster final, Brennan was forced to watch as the team in which he had just recently claimed a central starting spot, was decimated by Kerry without him.

"I was very disappointed, obviously with myself first of all," Brennan remembers. "I was just delighted that the lads pulled it together on the day in the Leinster final. It was tough watching.

"The Kerry match -- for the first 15 or 20 minutes, I wanted to be out there and for the rest of it, I wanted to go home, like most people in Dublin."

As for last Sunday, Brennan's injury meant he was forced to stay at home and watch on the television and while rightly refusing to endulge in any hubris over the result, the performances of a few of the not-so-familiar bodies in blue were, at least, a cause for optimism.

"I think for both teams, it would have been a good exercise," says Brennan. "Jack O'Connor would have seen a lot of his new lads and we would have seen a lot of our new lads.

"I suppose it would be a bit of a confidence boost, particularly for the new lads coming in and getting game time against the All-Ireland champions. It's good experience."

Many of those raw to such experience manned the Dubs defence, an area which is likely to again come into sharp focus this summer. Interestingly, Pat Gilroy made a point midweek about the benefits of having selected a backline made up mostly of players who operate in those same positions for their clubs, and it's a sentiment which is shared by Brennan.

"If you're familiar with a position, you're going to excel at it," he notes. "If you're being moved around, you won't.

"You could probably think of the example of Paddy Andrews -- he could be corner-forward for Dublin one week and corner-back the following week.

"It must be fairly frustrating for him because how can you excel in the one spot?"

A man already hell-bent and well on his way to earning a lengthy stint in the Dubs starting 15 is Eamon Fennell, currently embroiled in a transfer row between O'Toole's and St Vincent's.

Granted, being a Vincent's man himself, Brennan has a vested interest in how the case plays out at the looming DRA hearing but from a purely intercounty perspective, he hopes the mess can be untangled before much longer.

"A player of Eamon's talent, you'd like to see him play with your club," Brennan admits. "Obviously, being pals with him, he's just very frustrated and he just wants to play football.

"He's in great shape as you can see at the moment and he's playing great stuff.

"He's really worked hard over the Christmas period and he just wants to play football. That's pretty much it," he concludes.