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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Bernard Brogan: 'I didn't think I'd be nominated for Footballer of the Year'

Bernard Brogan admits to being surprised at his nomination for Footballer of the Year, five years after winning the coveted award

Dublin's Bernard Brogan, Denis Bastick, Tomás Brady, Brian Fenton, and Paddy Andrew celebrate following their victory over Kerry in the All-Ireland Football final last month
Dublin's Bernard Brogan, Denis Bastick, Tomás Brady, Brian Fenton, and Paddy Andrew celebrate following their victory over Kerry in the All-Ireland Football final last month
Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan, President of the Federation of Irish Sport, is pictured at the launch of the Federation of Irish Sport's Manifesto for Irish Sport. The Federation, which represents 76 national governing bodies and 27 local sports partnerships, has set out a fivepoint plan for the next Government to deliver on Ireland's sporting potential. The manifesto includes the development of a national sports strategy, restoration of sport funding, extension of tax reliefs, mandatory provision of two hours' PE in secondary schools each week, and the setting up of sports event bidding agency. To view the manifesto, visit www.irishsport.ie.

Not too many players get nominated for Footballer of the Year five years after actually winning the coveted award.

"Makes me feel old," laughs Bernard Brogan, of that somewhat unexpected and welcomed situation.

As he admits: "Five years after I won one … I probably didn't think I'd be back at that level again."

Because the career path of Bernard Brogan hasn't exactly followed a classic arc.

Footballer of the Year in a season when Dublin didn't even reach the All-Ireland final, he scooped All Stars in 2011 and '13 too, when the Dubs went all the way.

Yet his form wasn't deserving of mention in the handing out of the gong for the football season's outstanding individual.

Last year, he wasn't so much as long-listed in the 45-man All Star list.

Given he had just turned 30, it was probably natural to expect the ageing process to contribute to the law of diminishing returns.

Will he get it? Thus replicating a feat last achieved by Trevor Giles in 1999 (having also been honoured in 1996) by winning a second Footballer of the Year?

Assured

Hard to say. Brogan has been decreed one of the three most influential players of the 2015 by the selection committee and as such, his fourth All Star is assured following his superb individual tally of 6-21, with only one point coming from a free.

Now, it's down to the players and he smiles when it's put to him that he's unlikely to lose a popularity contest amongst the inter-county playing fraternity to Philly McMahon.

Jack McCaffrey's a different matter.

"It's not on the agenda," Brogan says an you'd nearly believe him.

"I'm up against Philly and Jack. Two fellas who were unreal this year.

"Jack has just brought a new level of pace to the whole thing. A new level of energy to the game. He's amazing to watch and so important for us.

"Philly shows how to do a job. Two of the top men in the county, Aidan O'Shea and 'The Gooch', didn't get much off him and he got his couple of scores as well.

"The two lads were unreal. I got a couple of scores but a lot of them were on the end of team moves.

"It's a massive honour to be nominated. It's good to be involved."

Quite why he's back is hard to say. The relinquishing of free-taking duties until, strangely, late on in the All-Ireland final, certainly contributed.

His long distance run of football without injury, perhaps moreso.

Unselfish

"I've always said it, momentum is massive as a forward," he reckoned.

"Just to be able to get game time and train and be on the pitch … this year I've been able to do that.

"And the way the Dublin team play has helped me. There's very unselfish play. I got a couple of goals that we call 'TGs' - Team Goals - just palmed them in or whatever because I was the furthest man forward.

"That shows the team working as a whole. I'm the furthest forward so I'm on the end of them sometimes and they add to your scoring tally but it's a combination of being fit and healthy and playing in a great team."

An evolving one, too.

If, at the start of this year, you were armed with the knowledge that none of Stephen Cluxton, Paul Flynn or Michael Darragh Macauley would even be nominated for an All Star, you could have carried it into any bookies and named your price on Dublin winning the All-Ireland.

"You look at Ciarán Kilkenny, just kicked scores for fun. Paddy Andrews showed unbelievable form. "(Brian) Fenton coming in and grabbing the game by the horns.

"And Paul (Flynn) had his best game in the final. What I always say when people ask about what people are saying about you, look at Paul Flynn. He sets the standards at a certain level.

Ultimate

"He is the ultimate player. And when he doesn't get a few scores in a game, people take their eye off him. But he showed again on the big day …three from play and probably 10 tackles."

Brogan is speaking in his role as President of the Federation of Irish Sport after launching a new manifesto, calling for the development of a national sports strategy and the restoration of funding to pre-recession levels to form part of any future government's plans.

He is both highly curious of and sympathetic to the plight of Irish sports people, which explains why he expresses admiration for the recent actions of the Mayo senior football panel in the 'removal' of team management.

"It shows a bit of character in that sense," Brogan points out. "They're not going to rest on their laurels. None of us know what went on in the dressing-room but obviously, whatever happened, the majority of players aren't happy with it.

"It shows the character of the lads," Brogan adds. "They want success."

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