Alan Brogan: Bernard will fight for a starting spot with Dubs
Proven forward still has plenty to offer Jim Gavin this summer, reckons his brother
Bernard Brogan: his proven quality will still be an asset for Dublin this summer. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
“Well he wouldn’t be one of those babies to throw the toys out of the pram, if he’s not playing,” says Alan Brogan, assessing on suitably sibling terms the role of younger brother, Bernard, in the Dublin football team.
Because Brogan does, in every sense, know what he’s talking about.
He found himself in a similar role in his last season with Dublin, in 2015. Having lost his once permanent starting place on the team, Brogan started every game that summer on the bench, though still made a telling impact – most lastingly in the All-Ireland final win over Kerry, when he came off the bench and scored the final point of the game.
So now, when Alan talks about Bernard’s role, the insight is perfect natural; the younger Brogan didn’t start in Dublin’s quarter-final win Carlow earlier this month, but did come off the bench to score two points (replacing Kevin McManamon, on 46 minutes).
Even in the absence of the suspended Diarmuid Connolly, he’s not expected to start this Sunday’s semi-final against Westmeath although either way, says Alan, he’s now comfortable in that new role.
“I wouldn’t say he was too surprised that he wasn’t playing, and I think he was probably happy enough with how he did when he come in [against Carlow]. At this stage of his career, he probably knows it’s coming that he might have to play as an impact sub off the bench.
“He’s very good at that, like, in fairness to him. He’s a very good temperament about those things. He knows at this stage that he has another year or two.”
Not that either of the brothers would feel entirely satisfied in that role. Alan admits he found it hard missing out in 2015, when dropped by manager Jim Gavin, and reckons Bernard hasn’t given up the chase for a starting berth. They’ve always been close like that, Alan succeeding Bernard as footballer of the year in 2011.
“I don’t know that he [Bernard] has accepted that role. He will keep fighting for a starting spot but he’ll keep doing what he has to do for the team. Even though he has probably been one of our most ruthless forwards over the last few years, he is quite selfless in that regard as well, that he will put the team before himself, and he’ll do what he has to do coming off the bench or starting.”
Indeed Alan admits he was pretty annoyed at missing out on a starting place in 2015: “Well you’re doing your best to try and get back in the team, and at stages throughout that year I thought I should have been back in the team.
“After one game I think Kevin McManamon might have got dropped, and he (Gavin) went for Paddy Andrews ahead of me.
“And from that stage on I probably knew this was my role, coming off the bench. Of course you want to play but same as that I wouldn’t let it affect the group, or I wouldn’t let lads know I was annoyed about it.
“You just get on with it, do your bit when you come off the bench and I think that’s just what you have to do. Only 15 guys can play at any one time and I think in fairness to the Dublin lads as a group, no one would be throwing toys out of the pram if they’re not getting a start.
“It’s difficult to do anyway when you’re winning every match as we were at that stage. There wasn’t a lot I could do about it.”
Dublin’s 12-point win over Carlow last Saturday week leaves them well on course for a seventh successive Leinster final, and potentially a seventh title in succession too. They’re playing Westmeath for a third successive year, having beaten them in the previous two finals by a combined total of 28 points.
“I thought they were alright,” Alan says of Dublin’s performance against Carlow. “I thought Carlow were very organised, were never going to win the game, but were very organised, made it difficult for Dublin. They frustrated Dublin, lads just had to grind it out and it wasn’t very pretty in the end
But are the Dubs struggling for goals?
“Even though Dublin got to the league final, I don’t think the performances have been at the same level as they have been over the last few years. I’m sure the management have identified that, that scores aren’t coming as freely as they were, there’s been a lack of goals.
“That gives Jim something to work on. That’s how he’d approach it, he sees those things as challenges rather than problems so they’ll identify those things and they’ll try to work on them for the next day.”
Even with Connolly suspended until an All-Ireland semi-final, presuming Dublin get that far, Alan believes there is plenty of cover on the Dublin team, on and off the bench.
“It gives guys like Con O’Callaghan a real chance, it might give a fella like Colm Basquel a real chance. I’d be excited to see any of those guys get a run of matches throughout the summer because he probably needs to get a few lads into the team with the likes of Bernard and Paul Flynn getting older.
“I think they do have options, and you would still expect Dublin to be coming out of the Leinster championship without Diarmuid. That’s no disrespect to anything else in Leinster, and then it depends on who they get in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.”