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Sunday 4 December 2016

Brogan: I'll win jersey

Dub veteran determined to get back starting spot

Dublin’s Bernard Brogan amongst the substitutes ahead of the All-Ireland SFC Final replay last Sunday at Croke Park
Dublin’s Bernard Brogan amongst the substitutes ahead of the All-Ireland SFC Final replay last Sunday at Croke Park

"A different kind of journey," is how Bernard Brogan describes his footballing year, though he's naturally "relieved with the way it ended."

A quick digression though, to a big moment very towards the finish, but still a million miles from the glorious ending Brogan and Dublin earned for themselves.

"Jim took me aside," he recalls of that point in the "weird" two weeks between the drawn and replayed All-Ireland finals when Brogan was informed, for the first time since establishing himself in the Dublin attack circa 2009, that he wouldn't be starting a match.

Not just any old match either.

"He just said 'this is the way we think is the route for the game', and I just said 'no, problem, whenever you need me I'm ready to come in and do a job'.

"There's no point in moping about it, it was about putting the mindset right and getting a performance."

If anything, Brogan reckons, his altered tasks for All-Ireland replay Saturday "took a bit of pressure off me.

"Jim said to me: 'You're not going to start the next day but we are going to need you at some stage'.

"I was like 'grand,' obviously, disappointed but I was like 'OK, no pressure on me now'.

"Jim said when I came on, I was going to finish. So when it happened, just go at it. I took a lot of energy from that.

"Sometimes when you are a forward and there is a lot of competition and you miss a few chances, you are going 'I'm going to be taken off here,' whereas I said 'when I come on, I'm going to finish it out and throw everything at the game'. So it was a different challenge but I actually enjoyed it."

So Brogan, at 32, was benched but came on and kicked a point in a one-point win.

And if you were to draw up a list of players with the ability and ambition to make an immediate imprint in the Dublin team next season, a large number of them would be in Brogan's position.

So the final stages of Brogan's career graph should go go like this ...

1) Aging player loses starting spot after glorious career. 2) Settles for abridged role and, perhaps, manages to collect another medal on the way back down. 3) Retires.

Already, Brogan has committed to at least one more year in blue.

And now, less than a week after last season ended, he's stating his ambitions not to simply shuffle off into his inter-county dotage.

"I'm going at it to take that jersey back," he insists. "I'm an ultra-competitive guy and it's probably how I got into the team in the first place, so next year I'll be no different.

"There's no question I'm going to say 'Oh yeah this is my role now from now on,'" Brogan stresses.

"I don't think anyone goes out and accepts that 'I've got a small role here' - you have to go out and push for everything."

Still, there's no denying that the scenery is changing around him. Yesterday morning, the long list of All Star nominations were released.

Dublin had 11 but Brogan, Paul Flynn and Michael Darragh Macauley were not among them.

Special time

Not something you'd have envisaged in an All-Ireland winning season for the Dubs.

It is a squad, however, unlikely to shed too many players of their own volition between now and the commencement of their three-in-a-row drive in 2017.

"It's a special time for Dublin GAA and everyone wants to be part of it as much as they can," Brogan pointed out. "I know there'll be people pushing and youngsters coming through again like there always is.

"I think everyone wants to be part of this special Dublin team. I always say do it if you still think you can do something for the team, be it five minutes or 20 minutes, or for the full game.

"It's a special group," Brogan concludes, "and everyone will want to be part of it for as long as they can."

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