Tuesday 12 December 2017

Brogan looking to add to family silver

Learning from past mistakes the key to lifting Sam, writes Marie Crowe

In an edition of Magill magazine in 1989 Bernard Brogan was interviewed along with Kevin Heffernan and the other members of the great Dublin team of the 1970s.

The piece makes reference to his three sons, including six-year-old son Alan. "Bernard brought him to his first All-Ireland last year," wrote David Walsh. "He has kicked around with Alan and reckons he could be a footballer."

Twenty-two years later and Alan today lines out in his first All-Ireland final along with his brother Bernard, while Paul is also in the squad. It's been a long time coming.

Surprisingly though, it hasn't dominated the conversation in the Brogan household.

"He knows that we will be getting it from all angles," says Alan of his father, "so when we go home they tend to leave it alone. We won't sit down and have a talk about the final, but we will discuss it. He won't put too much pressure on us, the time we spend together at home, that's the time we need to get away from it all and he understands that."

From the outside looking in, Kerry and Dublin is the dream final. It offers everything: the players, the rivalry and the glamour.

"Kerry are a dominant force in football and Dublin are a team that attract attention and that is the reason people want to see it. They are two good attacking teams with two good sets of forwards and a lot of good players. I don't think it is anything to do with the rivalry in the '70s.

"If I was only ever going to play one All-Ireland final, (hopefully I'll get another one in) and if you asked me who I'd want to play, it would be Kerry."

Brogan's ties to Kerry aren't limited to his father being part of the great Dublin team that shared the rivalry with Kerry in the 1970s, he has family down there too. When his Dad worked in Kerry, he trained with Jimmy Deenihan and through him met his wife-to-be, Maria.

"When I'm playing against other counties I have that mentality that I want to beat them, but when I am playing against Kerry it's more difficult because my mam is from down there and I have family there, but I think I will find it alright for this game."

One thing that will definitely spur on a big performance from Brogan is the memories of the defeats Dublin have suffered in the past few years. And while losing to Kerry in 2009 by 17 points was painful, it doesn't compare to losing to Mayo in 2006 or Cork last year. They had those two games in their grasp, were leading in the closing stages but just couldn't finish them out. Against Kerry, the game was over after 10 minutes.

Brogan believes Dublin have learned from these defeats. "I think this year with older fellas, there is a determination there and that comes from thinking you only have a couple of years left, it's nearly do-or-die stages. Also, I think there is the added impetus of the younger fellas who don't have those mental scars of three or four All-Ireland semi-final defeats. It also has helped that the likes of Michael Darragh Macauley and Mick Fitzsimons have come in and brought a bit of fresh blood to the thing."

However, there were times Brogan worried he might go through his whole career without ever reaching an All-Ireland final. That's no longer a worry after the win over Donegal.

"I'd prepared for the worst and it was worse than I'd prepared for," admitted Brogan. "We knew we had to win that one, we knew it would be difficult and frustrating, but we knew if we played as well as we could play we could definitely beat Donegal. I think it was more frustrating than I thought it would be."

After the game, Donegal came in for criticism for their style of football, but Brogan feels there are similarities between the way Donegal and Dublin play.

"In the opening games of Pat Gilroy's first year, we played very negative as well. We are a bit further down the road now than Donegal, they struggled to turn defence into attack, we were probably the same in our first few games. In a few National League games our scores were very low and we gradually worked on attack. I think getting the attack right will be Jimmy McGuinness' next job because he has nearly got his defence right."

Brogan feels that this year they are better equipped to deal with the Kerry challenge than before. They won't make the same mistakes again, he insists. All he is thinking about is the performance and if Dublin can get that right, then he will be well on the road to emulating his father.

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