Wednesday 13 December 2017

Humble Bernard Brogan accepts bench role with dignity and insists he is going nowhere

Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan enjoy their lap of honour after Dublin’s victory. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan enjoy their lap of honour after Dublin’s victory. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Bernard Brogan is herded towards a wall underneath the Hogan Stand and the dictaphones start whirring.

Beside, him a swing-door opens and the bottle of beer at his feet scatters and empties its contents. It matters little. There's plenty more of that in his immediate future.

Brogan's place in the world of Dublin football had just changed. For once, he was the sideshow and not centre stage. But he admits he could have no issue with Gavin's decision to include Paddy Andrews from the start.

"Look, I'm long enough in the tooth to know what it takes to win an All-Ireland," he says. "It's a team game. You look at us over the years and the impact we've had off the bench - the likes of Kev Mac (McManamon) and fellas like that.

"This year. . . that was the role I had to take. The way teams are playing against Dublin now, it's hard for an inside forward to have a massive impact.

"It's all about legs. It's all about movement. And the other lads were showing a bit better coming into the replay.

"Paddy obviously had a great day the last day. He was worth his place. So that's football.

"I knew I was going to get a few minutes and I had to try and make an impact when I did.

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"So it was just great to be involved with it. Look, it's great. A fourth All-Ireland. I never would have dreamed of it when I was a kid.

"I'm getting a bit older now. You have to cut your cloth to measure. You have to look at lads on the bench there - Cormac Costello came on today, he hasn't been in the mix.

"But he's showing really well in training over the last week. And that's all you can ask for as a player; that when you're showing well, you get the nod.

"Paddy was moving well, (Paul) Mannion was flying. All these players. It's so hard in the inside line.

"There's six or seven lads who would get on any inter-county team. You have to do your bit for the team.

"And if that means sitting aside for a while and give 20 minutes, that's what you have to do.

"I'm mature enough to accept that. And to be delighted to be on the winning side. Delighted to get out of there."

If Saturday night was the stuff if dreams for Brogan it's hard to put an adequate word on Brian Fenton's career to date. It's an incredible statistic but he has yet to lose a game of football while playing for Dublin.

He made his debut against Monaghan in April of last year in the final round of the league and he's gone from strength to strength since then. Dublin have played 25 more times since that day in Clones and in that time they've won two leagues, two Leinsters and now a pair of All-Ireland medals.

The Raheny man is also leading to betting to win Footballer of the Year just 18 months after his intercounty career started.

"Yeah I'm yet to lose a match with Dublin, which is probably something I'm going to have to get used to over the coming years," he smiled.

"This won't last forever and the success won't last forever. For now I'm enjoying the wins and enjoying the draws and enjoying these special occasions really.

"It's insane, it's madness. 18 months ago league debut and I was just hoping to last the year. Now look at us. Two Sam Maguires, couple of Leinsters, it's incredible. But to be fair a couple of those lads have four All-Irelands now, so it's only something I can aspire to. It's special, special times."

Ciaran Kilkenny obliges with an interview too but not before Taoiseach Enda Kenny stops for a quick word.

Kilkenny claimed one crucial late kick-out but revealed he was driven by a blunder he made earlier in the game. He thundered into a throw-up that he wasn't involved in and handed Mayo a free and an easy point when the game was in the melting pot.

And he revealed why he thinks he made the mistake.

"I was watching a bit of AFL on (Saturday) morning, the Western Bulldogs were playing the Sydney Swans when they do the ruck and when they throw the ball up a third man is allowed to come in and hit it if he wants.

"So I went in and I did that but Maurice Deegan gave a free against me. So all I was thinking was I need to get a kickout, I need to get on the ball and kill the game and try and make up for it."

Kilkenny reckons there was a "special aura" around the Dublin team this campaign.

"There was a special aura all around the team this year we are all brothers and we are all family," he said. "We are all so committed to it, we give so much time to it outside of training - we go to the sea, go for food together.

"We are literally brothers and are with each other all the time. So its so special to win with this group of players who love spending time with each other we nearly miss each other now in the off season.

"I'm delighted but some credit has to Mayo - we have massive respect for them; they put us to our collar last year and in the drawn game and again today but we just got the few scores towards the end. Hopefully we can kick on and keep the train going."

The bookmakers seem sure the juggernaut will roll on. Dublin have already been installed as favourites for next year's All-Ireland title and three in a row.

There's unlikely to be much change in the panel. Bernard Brogan still intends on being around in 2017. 

"I'll play until I feel I've nothing extra to add and there's others who can add more," he said. "I still think I have something to add to the team. So no, I'm hanging around. I'm not going anywhere, unless Jim has other ideas!"

Irish Independent

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