Brogan confident hamstring injury unlikely to end championship run
Forward doing extra rehabilitation work in bid to make return to line within two weeks
Dublin’s Bernard Brogan: “The bench has been our strongest point, in all of our games, for the last few years. And Sunday was another day when they did the business.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Sebastian Coe always said athletes are one hamstring pop away from oblivion. It might have entered Bernard Brogan’s head, when he heard something give in his left hamstring in Croke Park on Sunday, that his summer with the Dublin footballers could be obliterated in that moment.
Brogan has snapped and popped his hamstring a couple of times before, including 2008, when missed most of the summer, and straightaway suspected what he felt this time – not long into Dublin’s victory over Laois – would not keep him out for long.
“It’ll be fine, it’s nothing major, touch wood,” said Brogan.
“I was lucky enough in that I got a warning, after taking a bit of a spurt. I just felt a tweak. So it wasn’t as if I was going full tilt. In the past I have had a couple of very bad hamstring injuries, going full tilt, and tore the hamstring off the bone altogether.
“I’ve done some extra work on it too, a bit of yoga and stuff like that. It’s a hard one, when you’ve had it before. It’s one of those things that never goes away. Don’t they say Ryan Giggs, after he turned 30, hasn’t sprinted full tilt again? But I know my body, and thank God it wasn’t a major pull, just a warning. I’ve done it enough times in the past to know that.
“So I’m hoping it will be a 10-day to two-week job. That’s all. It certainly doesn’t feel too bad. I iced it up after the game, and hopefully when the physios throw the elbow into it, like they usually do, they’ll get it right for me. So I’d certainly like to be in the mix for the next day. If you lose a place in this team, you might not get it back. The competition really is that heavy.”
Full fitness required Brogan certainly wasn’t being flippant about that remark, because unless he is 100 per cent right, Dublin manager Jim Gavin is unlikely to start him against Wexford in three weeks’ time. The Dublin team now operates on a strictly in-form basis
and not just when it comes to the starting 15. Even Brogan has bought into that philosophy, knowing Dublin’s true strength is only as strong as their bench.
“Yeah, we’ve said it before, that the bench has been our strongest point in all of our games for the last few years. And Sunday was another day when they did the business. It’s great for the players on the pitch to be able to go all out and know someone can come on and finish the job for you. It’s great to have that belief.
“And I know, traditionally, a GAA player wants to be on the starting 15 and they’d be disappointed if they’re not.
“But Jim Gavin has created this mentality that it’s more than the 15. It’s the 26, and even the lads who aren’t there on the day.
“Everyone has a part to play, and no one in Dublin is getting disheartened by not being on the starting 15, because they know they’ll get their chance. The likes of Bryan Cullen. Kevin McManamon. Dean Rock, obviously. If lads are playing well like that Jim will play them.
Fine second-half display “It’s about having the belief in yourself
and the management. We have that. And it gives a lot of energy to the team.”
So if the manner of Sunday’s win over Laois wasn’t the most impressive – they trailed by two points at half-time, before winning by 11 – the method still is, as Dublin’s substitutes contributed 0-9 between them. That sort of strength, said Brogan, is what will ultimately count if Dublin are to defend their All-Ireland title.
And while Sunday’s hard-fought win over Laois was another reminder that nothing will come easy, it was also a reminder, not just for Brogan, that no team, no matter how strong, is immune to being obliterated by injury.
“We’ve been lucky enough, in that we haven’t had many major injury issues this year. But you saw last year when Donegal came off their All-Ireland success they lost a lot of bodies.
“So it’s a long year, it can be hard on the legs. And it’s about keeping injuries to a minimum, really.”
So far so good, though, and Brogan certainly feels Dublin are in a stronger position now then when trying to defend their All-Ireland title two years ago. One of the hardest things is avoiding all the talk of Dublin simply walking their way back to Croke Park in September to defend the title this time.
“We could have been beaten on Sunday, if we didn’t have such impact off the bench. In any game, it’s a two-horse race, so to have Dublin such hot favourites for every game is strange.
“But that’s the key lesson we took from 2012, to learn as you go along.”
Competitive games needed Brogan added: “And I think we learned a few lessons, on Sunday.
“If you go through Leinster hammering everyone by 20 points you’re not going to learn anything.
“We need every game to be as competitive as Sunday was, instead of getting a win and maybe papering over cracks. Laois certainly asked a few questions of us, and it took us a while to answer them.”