Bernard 'not struggling' says manager
AT A promotional event two days after the Leinster final, Bernard Brogan spoke bluntly of the looming effort to retain his place in the Dublin forward line for the All-Ireland series still to come.
It was, on one level, quite a surreal admission from a player, who in the prime years of a career and less than three seasons after winning Footballer of the Year (two since collecting a second All Star) almost beat Cork on his own, scoring 1-6 from play in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final which Dublin lost by a point.
According to his manager, though: "(our) management team certainly don't think he's struggling at all. The data we get back shows he's playing a very important role for us. His play is very good and he's been a great example to the younger players in the squad. He's been a great role model to them on the field of play."
That Jim Gavin offered that particular opinion when asked a much more general question about the targeting of individual players is perhaps telling ... but the Dublin boss was stoic.
"Players are being double-marked," he began. "Bernard Brogan, for example, always has two or three guys on him. He's been playing outstandingly well, despite the attention that he gets. Both on and off the ball, he's really done a job for us and our stats would show that.
"We're very happy with his return. He's become a real leader for the team and shown a great example to the younger players both on and off the field of play. He's playing a massive role for us and is creating space for a lot of other players. That might be one example if you're looking for players that are being targeted."
The bare stats veer slightly from Gavin's assessment. Brogan has kicked 1-9 in three championship matches, all of which he has been substituted in. Against that, it is difficult to quantify the amount of space he has created and time he has granted to someone like Paul Mannion, on account of the big red target put on his back by opposition managers and man- markers.
"He works very hard on the pitch. He's being double-marked consistently and has to work hard to get on the ball," Gavin outlines. "That takes a big toll on any player. The times he's come off has been on a tactical basis and we've looked for something different."
The notion, however, that Brogan's high-scoring days are over were disproved by the man himself during the league.
On a Saturday in early March, he kicked a magnificent 1-10 (1-6 from play) against Mayo in a performance which ranks highly among his very best, hinting at a return to 2010 and '11 levels of scoring.
"Well, 2010 was under a different game-plan," said Gavin of how Brogan complimented the respective systems, and vice versa.
"That's the first thing I would say about that," stressed the Dublin boss.
"Certainly it is in the rear view mirror.
"He is playing in a different system now. So are all the forwards.
"Bernard has shown in the current system the potential to get big scores. As he did in the national league.
"He's a potent player if any team gives him space," concluded Gavin.