Saturday 14 December 2019

Brogan dazzled by 'traffic jam' of young Dublin talent

Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan at the launch of the Lenovo GAA Skills Hub, holding a photograph of himself as a 14 year old playing for St Oliver Plunketts. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan at the launch of the Lenovo GAA Skills Hub, holding a photograph of himself as a 14 year old playing for St Oliver Plunketts. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

SUCH is the depth of talent in Dublin, Bernard Brogan feels that there is something of a "traffic jam" of talent waiting to get into the senior panel.

Their All-Ireland U-21 success last weekend has freed up yet more young tyros looking to force their way into Jim Gavin's set-up.

The star of Saturday's U-21 win over Roscommon, Conor McHugh – who has been arguably Dessie Farrell's most consistent performer – isn't in the senior squad.

There are others too who have impressed – meaning the "traffic jam" is heading for gridlock. And as Brogan points out, Dublin manager Gavin's challenge is to pick the best panel while keeping those who will be on the outside looking in this summer focused as they wait on their chance.

"When I started playing football, we won a Leinster U-21 and we were delighted. Five or six of those lads were brought up (to the senior set-up)," said Brogan at the launch of the Lenovo GAA Skills Hubs that offers teenagers aged 13-15 the chance to learn from top GAA stars at camps around the country this summer.


"And the year that (his brother) Alan won the U-21 All-Ireland (in 2003), there were about eight of them that were brought in.

"There's a traffic jam now of really powerful young lads that are coming up. The likes of McHugh that would be on any inter-county team, and I'm sure he will get a chance.

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"There are several lads like that who in other years would all be in there looking to get a shot with the senior team.

"And that's the challenge for Jim, to keep these lads motivated. They're the guys that are going to be the future of Dublin. You want to keep them in tow.

"They're putting the pressure on Jim to give them a call-up. John Small and other fellas all over the pitch ... these lads are knocking on the door.

"They've won a couple of All-Irelands at U-21 level, so I think Jim will have to have his work cut out over the next few months to find a championship panel.

"The competition in training is already fierce and now you have a few more lads knocking on the door after winning an All-Ireland. They deserve a shot."

The question of splitting Dublin will always raise its head at times like this. And Brogan admits that the in-house training games suggests there's enough talent there to put out two strong sides.

But he's also quick to point out that it hasn't always been this way for Dublin. Their recent league final win was his brother Alan's first success in that competition despite 13 seasons with the Dubs.

"If you look at our 'A's and 'B's games you'd say 'yeah, you could (put out two teams).' But Dublin, for so long, had been chasing this type of a team and these type of results that we've had over the last few years," he said.

After speaking openly on his doubts about whether he'd be able to make it back to inter-county football after sitting out 2013, Alan's renaissance could hardly have come at a better time for Dublin. Ciaran Kilkenny's injury has opened the door for his return and the elder Brogan has shown glimpses of his best form.

"Missing all last year and us having such a successful year, he probably has a bit of a (point) to prove," Bernard said. "A lot of people would have written him off because he was getting that bit older but as you saw in the league final, he's probably the fittest player on the pitch.

"He covers the most miles and I think he has the most possessions in nearly every game that he plays.

"We're delighted to have him back. I don't think there was any doubt in our headsthat he had something to offer but he just had to get that right in his own head first."

It's yet another option and it paints a very bright future for Dublin. The next hurdle is to defend their title, something they failed to do in 2012 when their season never really got off the ground as they failed to hit the heights of the year before.

"We've a bit more experience now. We went so long without an All-Ireland ... 16 years ... and we were a bit naive coming in the following year. We trained as hard but we couldn't get to the level in the head up where we needed to be," said Brogan.

"Jim's a very good operator. He's very cute. He'll keep us grounded and keep our eyes on the job in hand and keep us level and keep us performing at our best. And when you do that, you never know what might happen."

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