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Dubs hero Brogan has lost none of his skill or guile

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Alan Brogan, Dublin, in action against Mark Craig, Derry. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Alan Brogan, Dublin, in action against Mark Craig, Derry. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Gerard O'Kane, Derry, in action against Aidan McCrory, left, and Niall McKenna, Tyrone. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Gerard O'Kane, Derry, in action against Aidan McCrory, left, and Niall McKenna, Tyrone. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

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Alan Brogan, Dublin, in action against Mark Craig, Derry. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

AT one stage very early on in Dublin's defeat to Derry in Celtic Park on Sunday – a lull in the storyline of this team – Alan Brogan chased down Derry's strong centre-back Ger O'Kane, flapped and flailed a bit by way of tackle without finding much purchase at all, and then struggled to keep stride with his target.

Had any other Dublin player been involved, it would have ranked as one of the most unremarkable phases of play in an otherwise decent match.

When it involves a footballer well established as a 30-something, as Brogan is, and – more pertinently – in the embryonic stages of a comeback from severe injury and a lengthy absence, as Brogan is too, the natural inclination is to question whether he will ever be as quick over the ground again or able to endure 70 plus minutes on the '45.

Six points (five from play) later for Brogan and everyone who had briefly doubted him was now knowingly pointing out how, with his skill and cunning still very obviously in tact, the 2011 Footballer of the Year should return to a locale close to optimum once he gets the bit of fitness back.

"If you watch soccer, Wayne Rooney drops in to fill the pocket, Alan Brogan does nearly the same," observed O'Kane, who, in mitigation, only marked Brogan for the first two of his half dozen points.

"He's able to make space, I suppose that goes with experience – he's 32, 33 now – he's been playing the game a long time and he knows where to find those pockets of space.

"I had marked him before in a few friendlies. I only marked him for 10 or 15 minutes anyway and then he went inside. I was kind of glad to see him go inside because he has that type of movement, he is able to create serious space."

IMPACT

Truly, it was the highlight of Jim Gavin's day.

Quite how beneficial Gavin finds playing such matches shorn of so many of the players who are likely to start come summer is open to question.

Yes, he'll learn something of those with ideas of squeezing into his XV, but without solid surroundings, it can often be difficult to make an impact.

Then again, Brogan didn't find it too hard.

"There was one time he probably could have had a goal but he opted for the point," O'Kane pointed out.

"He has the movement and the head and experience to play the game.

"If Dublin are going to play most of their football in Croke Park, which they usually do, then you can create a lot more space and goal-chances, which someone like him can do.

"Although they are the All-Ireland champions, they are short five or six players that played in their starting team last year. (They were without nine from the All-Ireland final).

"Now, Dublin have a serious squad of players, so that is not to belittle anybody from 16 to 30 on their team because they are all nearly as good as each other.

"We'll take a fair bit of confidence away from this, not just the fact that we won, but the fact we proved we can work hard for 70 minutes," concluded O'Kane.


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