Saturday 22 October 2016

Bernard Brogan: Give us more games ... not fewer

Brogan doesn't want Leinster bye for the Dubs and he'd love match every fortnight

Bernard Brogan
Bernard Brogan
Bernard Brogan in action against Longford

DUBLIN have just throttled poor old Longford by 27 points, prompting Planet GAA to lurch into panic stations over championship structures that are doing nothing for the weaker counties - and maybe not a lot for the Dubs either.

Where have we heard this before? And will anything change between now and next June when history repeats itself, albeit with a different victim taking Longford's place?

Well, maybe so, based on comments in Croke Park yesterday from GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail, who spoke in favour of some form of second-tier championship.


Speaking at the same launch, promoting the Lenovo GAA Skills Hubs, Bernard Brogan echoed calls for a restructuring to facilitate the likes of Longford ... but his primary focus was, understandably, Dub-centric.

Brogan, for the record, is adamant that even matches finishing 4-25 to 0-10 can be of benefit to the winners. Moreover, he is fundamentally against the idea, floated by Leinster Council chairman John Horan, of giving Dublin a bye into next year's Leinster SFC semi-final were they to retain their provincial stranglehold this summer.

"I wouldn't be in favour because that's just one less game! I've been saying give us more games - I wouldn't be saying give us less," the 31-year-old counters.

"As players we play in Croke Park and love every bit of it. We're amateur, we work all day every day and we train in the evenings and the mornings; we play the game because we love it. So, don't take games away from us," said the St Oliver Plunkett's clubman

Bernard Brogan in action against Longford

Essentially, given their recent monopoly of Leinster, Dublin are judged on barely four games: the provincial final and the All-Ireland series, another three outings if they make it to September.

Brogan would love to play more. "I know that the league is great and we've gone after it the last few years," he explains, "but the championship, if you win all your games, is six games. Like, I'd love to play ten games, 12 games. Put two weeks in between them and let us play a load of games; and whatever the structure is, you roll on.

"There's no reason for us to be sitting out for four weeks, and the club lads sitting out for four months without playing a (championship) game. If you had two weeks between games, the body recovers in a week.

"In 2010 we went through the 'back door', played five weeks in-a-row or something like that, and no one was struggling.

"Just a couple of knocks along the way, but everyone was able to get up and recover on the Monday and go again the following Sunday.

"I played my best year," adds the 2010 Footballer of the Year, "because I was playing football and getting practice and we were playing good teams and winning games, and you just get confidence and momentum. And when you've to wait five weeks to go again, it's very hard to get that."


All of this helps to explain why Brogan saw some merit in last Sunday's cakewalk. In previous campaigns, his early-summer form and/or availability have been hampered by injury niggles; this year he has hit the ground running with 1-6 from play against Longford.

"I wanted to get out there and prove to myself that the body was still right and I still had a lot to offer," he explains.

"There are 15 other lads there and you know yourself the competition we have with lads coming off the bench like Michael Darragh Macauley, Paddy Andrews, Alan (Brogan). The competition for places is going to be ripe again.

"People say 'you won by 20 points (sic), it's a waste of time' ... I wouldn't think that. When I go out there we have to prove to the management that we are due our place and if Jim (Gavin) doesn't see us going hard for the full 70 minutes, he's going to take us off and someone else is going to go in there."

The three-time All Star recalls how, in previous campaigns, injuries have left him struggling for early championship momentum whereas this time, he came off on the hour feeling "really good" and looking forward to several weeks of hard training ahead of their Leinster semi-final against Laois or Kildare.

And collectively?

"You can be complacent about games like that, you can go through the motions, try and kick balls from 40 yards - but we didn't do that.

"That's a positive ... we went hard for the 70 minutes," he says.

"Lads came in, no one rested on their laurels, no one went off on solo runs; we had a system and we stuck to it. We were meant to win and we did, but there are a lot of positives to take out of it."





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