Tuesday 20 August 2019

Why Dublin need Bernard Brogan as much as Diarmuid Connolly for bench impact

Bernard Brogan of Dublin in action against Ciaran McLaughlin of Tyrone during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final Group 2 Phase 3 match between Tyrone and Dublin at Healy Park in Omagh, Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Bernard Brogan of Dublin in action against Ciaran McLaughlin of Tyrone during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final Group 2 Phase 3 match between Tyrone and Dublin at Healy Park in Omagh, Tyrone. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

"Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side." We're not entirely sure if Jim Gavin is a Sherlock Holmes devotee; we do know that the Dublin supremo would certainly aver with the detective's blinkered approach to problem-solving.

And while Gavin may have indulged in a veritable orgy of love-bombing in Omagh, it will be cold, calculated decision-making that will underpin his approach to selecting the 26 men to face Mayo this Saturday.

As he reminded everyone, selecting those numbering 16-26 will arguably be an even more difficult task than perming the starting 15.

Dublin's public pronouncements of slavish selflessness may jar with so many beyond the Pale but Gavin, whose campaigns are plotted with intricate detail, appreciates that the team which finishes his matches are the team which wins them.

And yet he knows that, occasionally, even within the collective, one player can propel the side closer to the winning line when it matters, be it an Alan Brogan clincher or a Cormac Costello cameo or a half-time switch for Diarmuid Connolly.

Should Gavin err - unlikely - in his starting preferences or, say, a snapped cruciate deprive him of a key talisman in the opening minutes, the reliance on the six subs becomes fraught with greater anxiety. There is no room for error, no admittance to sentiment, no allowance for status.

Last year's decider may have been the easiest of their four successive victories, but Paul Flynn's last championship involvement was as an unused substitute; so too Bernard Brogan, Paddy Andrews and Eoghan O'Gara.

Last Sunday in Omagh, the travelling Hill got to see the aforementioned trio strut their stuff and fittingly they all scored; many headed south wondering might it be the last time they did so.

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If it seems cold and calculating to cast such names aside, then welcome to the mind of Jim Gavin.

Given the status of last Sunday's game, and the fact that many first-teamers didn't even travel, few of the manager's carefully planned assumptions would have been challenged.

Dublin will aim to inject early pace on Saturday against a Mayo side facing a second tough game in a week.

If Dublin can't shake off a side that have yet to beat them in Gavin's championship reign but who always detain them, the bench options will be crucial when the brains trust plot the week ahead.

They might be tempted to shift James McCarthy into midfield to take Aidan O'Shea on a safari which would allow Macauley to assume a raucous second-half running impact.

Connolly has re-entered the equation and his extended duty in Omagh all but confirms his presence on the bench, meaning a high-profile forward will miss out.

Brogan might have seemed an inevitable casualty but his cameo was as instructive as Gavin's enthusiastic reaction to it.

The Dublin boss pointed out Brogan's role in challenging the kick-out which ultimately led to the only goal of the game; as a springer, he can be just as vital as Connolly.

In that case, it seems more likely that an O'Gara or even a McManamon may become imperilled.

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