Friday 15 November 2019

Dublin legend and seven-time All-Ireland winner Bernard Brogan confirms inter-county retirement

Bernard Brogan holds his twin sons Keadan and Donagh
Bernard Brogan holds his twin sons Keadan and Donagh

Conor McKeon

BERNARD Brogan has announced his retirement from inter-county football

In a 793-word statement posted this afternoon on his Twitter account, Brogan explained how "now is the right time for me to hang up the boots," at 35 years of age, having won seven All-Ireland medals and established himself as both one of the great modern forwards in Gaelic football and the third highest-scorer in Dublin football history.

And though he made just two, brief appearances for Dublin this year, he signed out on a high-note, having won a place in Jim Gavin's matchday squad on the team that sealed their legacy with a historic fifth All-Ireland title in a row.

For all his success, the story of Brogan’s inter-county career is a late-developing one.

Having won a Sigerson Cup with DCU in 2006, Brogan spent two years on the Dublin panel before making his Championship debut in the 2007 Leinster SFC quarter-final replay victory over Meath as a substitute for Colin Moran in the 72nd minute.

Prior to that, he tore his cruciate ligament and subsequently, was only a bit part player in the latter years of 'Pillar' Caffrey's reign, only fully establishing himself as a starter under Pat Gilroy.

It was under Gilroy that Brogan evolved into arguably the most potent inside forward of his era.

In an interview in 2012, Brogan explained: "In 2010 the emphasis he put on me changed my game. The days of a full forward swanning around and trying to kick a few scores and not doing any work are over. Well, they did are in our book anyway.

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"Pat used to pull me up in training for not working. The pressure he put on me was hard at the time and really developed me as a player."

In his retirement statement, Brogan thanks Caffrey for "taking a chance on" him and credits Gilroy for "pushing and moulding me into the footballer I always wanted to be."

In 2010, as Gilroy began to change the style and attitude of a team who had begun to dominate Leinster but habitually fail in the All-Ireland series - despite Dublin failing to make the All-Ireland final - Brogan was named as Footballer of the Year, having scored 3-42 in six games.

The following September, Brogan was one of the most influential members of the Dublin team that ended a 16-year famine and landed a first All-Ireland for the county since 1995 after a memorable final victory over Kerry.

Both of his brothers, Alan and Paul, were also part of the squad that year, with Alan finishing as Footballer of the Year.

"To get it over the line together in 2011 is something we will have to look back on and value even more as time goes by," he wrote today.

A second Celtic Cross came in 2013, when Brogan scored two goals in a one-point final victory over Mayo.

Brogan remained a central figure in the Dublin team under Jim Gavin until 2016, when he was one of three players dropped for the All-Ireland final replay against Mayo.

Then in 2018, he suffered a second ACL rupture in a training session, leading to expectations of retirement.

Despite this, Brogan made a remarkably accelerated return from the injury, coming on in Dublin’s Super 8s victory over Roscommon, just 23 weeks after suffering the injury.

This year, he played only the final minutes of Dublin’s last League match in Breffni Park and came on as a second half substitute in the dead rubber victory over Tyrone in Omagh.

Yet despite suffering the disappointment of being left out of Gavin’s matchday 26 for the drawn All-Ireland final, Brogan made the squad for the replay.

He retires having scored 36-344 in 116 League and Championship matches for Dublin, behind only Jimmy Keaveney and as of this summer, Dean Rock in the pantheon of all-time scorers.

Brogan also has seven All-Ireland medals, 13 Leinster titles, five National League wins and four All Stars.

Jim Gavin paid tribute to Brogan in a statement:

"Bernard has had a long and distinguished inter county career representing the county of Dublin, notably at senior level for over 15 seasons. A great leader of the team, Bernard inspired those around him by his actions, resolve and determination to be the best player that he could be for Dublin. The longevity of his inter country career, his collection of medals and awards is a testament to the impact he has on Gaelic games – for that we are truly grateful.

"Bernard is an immense credit to his family, friends and club St Oliver Plunketts/Eoghan Ruadh. He is a true gentleman and we all wish Bernard every success and good fortune in his new journey."

Bernard Brogan's retirement statement in full…

"After 15 amazing years on the road, now is the right time for me to hang up the boots and retire from Dublin inter-county football.

"May GAA career has always been about the journey, not the destination. I have learnt more from the losses than from the wins, more about myself in times of challenge and injury than in times of success.

"I have built lifelong friendships – forged on what we call our battlefield. I will cherish all these memories, and speak about them for a lifetime but not without mentioning those who raised me upward and onward along the way – whose support I couldn't have done without.

"Man and Dad you walked a thousand side lines to support your three sons, a constant source of encouragement in football and in life. We walk on the shoulders of giants, and Dad, your journey before ours spurred and drove us on to try and emulate your success. My bothers, Alan and Paul – who can say they shared their first All-Ireland success with their only siblings. To get it over the line together in 2011 is something we will have to look back on and value even more as time goes by. You have both been huge sources of energy for me and driven me on at times when I needed it most.

"To Pillar for taking a chance on me, Pat for pushing and moulding me into the footballer I always wanted to be, and to Jim for the education and amazing journey we have had over the last number of years. You all know your impact – and I am forever grateful for our time together.

"To the many members of backroom team I have had the pleasure of learning from and working with – your values, support and guidance to the many groups of young men in your care over the years has more impact than you'll ever know. You are the backbone of us all, and I cannot thank you enough – great people, true blues.

"To my business partner & cousin Hames and my workmates in Legacy, Peptalk and my public house colleagues in Brogans & Lilly's – thank you – you'll see me around a lot more now! My extended family for your support and keeping us all connected during those summer Sundays. To all my friends at home for your loyalty and understanding when I have missed so much.

"The GAA community has given me so much – there are too many to note, but thank you to those in the Dublin County Board for getting me to where I am – for your investment in the youth, you have set the standard for high performance, St Oliver Plunketts ER for the environment to grow and learn, looking forward to more time with you, maybe even with the small ball too.

"To the Dublin supporters and Hill 16, thank you for the unwavering support during my time playing in blue and never giving up on me in a blue jersey. I have always claimed that you are the greatest fabs in the world and you were my last wave walking out of Croke Park.

"To the many Dubs I was lucky enough to call my teammates – thank you all, you are the reason I kept coming back, match days are always great but my memories off the pitch will burn so much brighter. The friendship, the craic, the stories and trips – you changed the game, our time together will be hard to replace, I hope you success continues. I always liked to play the game with a smile. It was when I felt I played my best. I will leave with that smile still there, safe in the knowledge that the jersey is in safe hands.

"I'd also like to thank Paul Flynn and his team in the GPA for their continued support and advocacy on behalf of Gaelic Players all over he country.

"Finally, to my wife Keira, for all of your support, patience and counsel over the years; I know we have missed so many special moments and you have carried the load to facilitate endless nights of training and commitments I made on the part of us both. Our beautiful boy and I are so lucky to have you and I cannot thank you enough for he loyalty and commitment to us as a family, and to me and my Dublin dream.

"I gave my all for he cause right to the end and I am happy now to take my pace in the stand, back to where it all began for me as a child, with my own father – cheering on the Dubs. I look forward to these same moments with Donagh and Keadan. Onto the next journey.

"Up the Dubs!"

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