Bernard Brogan feels structures all in place for Dublin
Gavin boosts the ranks with those he managed to under-21 All-Ireland titles
Bernard Brogan who is looking forward to this year’s championships with National League winners Dublin set to face either Westmeath or Carlow on June 1st.
How did we get to this juncture in the evolution of Dublin as an unrelenting football force?
It started with the arrival of Pat Gilroy as manager in 2009 and is primed to be being carried forward once again by Jim Gavin. The National League champions are on the cusp of a special summer that begins with the winners of Westmeath and Carlow on June 1st.
Bernard Brogan will be there but not all those who stood beside him after Kerry were downed in September, 2011 will make Gavin’s starting team this summer.
Gavin has flooded the ranks with those he managed to under-21 All-Ireland titles in 2010 and 2012.
“I remember it was five or six years ago they changed the underage regime,” Brogan explained yesterday, speaking at the Red Bull Cúl 5 launch on a wasteland at the edge of the Dublin Docklands.
“They set up a structure that I’m sure a lot of other counties had, development squads at under-12, 13 and 14 panels.
“Jim was the first man to come up through it. He went from 12s up and stayed with the under-21s for a number of years, bringing the lads behind him into it.
Cream of crop
“That set up has started to reap its rewards with three out of the last four under-21 Leinster titles. And the last two All-Irelands.” The league campaign proved that the cream of these crops is rising to the top.
“For the likes of Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion it has been a seamless transition. They know what it is like to win, they know what it is like to play big games, whereas I came on at under-21 we did pretty well, we won a Leinster (in 2005), but we didn’t have the fluency and success that these lads have had.”
The structure means a talented soccer player, like Mannion, is not lost to Dublin football, it also means the best players are monitored from a very early age by men of Gavin’s calibre. Dessie Farrell is another deeply involved in the capital’s underage structures.
“There is a risk of guys being lost to other sports, rugby and soccer, especially in secondary school, but I think the structures the Dublin GAA have put in counter that.
We are keeping these elite performers in the GAA, it is benefiting us when they come through to senior level.”
Is there a fundamental difference in the style of the Gilroy team that delivered an All-Ireland in 2011 and Gavin’s more open, attacking approach this season?
“A little. Pat tried to play open football as well, quick football, a similar type to what Jim is doing. Different personnel but not a million miles away.
“As a forward it is nice to play under Jim, it is the way I like to play the game.”
Tyrone almost caught them in the league, but that victory and the draw they snatched from the All-Ireland champions up in Ballybofey merely enhanced their reputation.
Brogan ran the rule over their chief rivals this summer.
“I think Tyrone after a quiet couple of years have a bit of hunger in them. Cork and Kerry are never too far away and Donegal will have a bit to say again this year.
“Kildare will have a big say too, making it a very open championship I’d say with a lot of twists and turns. But I’m really looking forward to getting this first one under our belt, it’s not going to be easy. Everyone is always trying to knock us off our perch. But I am really looking forward to the challenge.”
Meanwhile, 2011 footballer of the year Alan Brogan is back training, after a groin injury, but he will not feature alongside younger brother Bernard for Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh in tonight’s Dublin club championship match against Ballinteer St Johns. However, Brogan could yet play some role in their Leinster championship campaign.