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Monday 5 December 2016

From the Bronx in '01 to HQ high in '11, Blues ace has seen it all against Kerry

Alan Brogan with brother Bernard.
Alan Brogan with brother Bernard.

The Dublin/Kerry rivalry dates back through the generations but, in a modern sense, it all reignited in Thurles and that famous quarter-final stalemate of 2001.

That was the game that whetted Alan Brogan's appetite to become a Dublin footballer - even if the Sky Blue minor graduate was watching it all unfold from the Big Apple.

"I watched it in a bar in the Bronx," he recounts. "I was over there for the summer, playing football, and obviously came back after that.

"People still talk about (Thurles), that trip and the wonderful atmosphere that was down there. Dublin obviously had chances to win the match that day, so even at that stage we probably weren't too far away. And you wouldn't have thought that we'd be so long pushing on from there."

Narrative

Over the next 14 seasons, culminating in this Sunday's All-Ireland SFC final, Kerry have been a central part of the Brogan narrative in Blue.

He has suffered in their company more often than not: Dublin lost a quarter-final in 2004 by 1-15 to 1-8, an edge-of-the-seat semi-final in '07 by 1-15 to 0-16, a '09 quarter-final bloodbath by 1-24 to 1-07, before the wheel turned and Dublin bounced back from four down to win the 2011 All-Ireland final by 1-12 to 1-11. For the 2013 semi-final, the injured Brogan looked on as Dublin won a classic.

Brogan's father, Bernard Snr, is a Sky Blue legend from the '70s while his mother is a Kerry native; ergo, he's immersed in the history of this fixture. But he has only a hazy memory of his own earlier encounters. Of 2004, he remembers Dara Ó Cinnéide pouncing on a fortuitous rebound off the post for Kerry's crucial second half goal.

"One of the games I kicked a load of wides," he says. "It's a long time ago now - you'll have to check the record books!" (We did, and it was '04 when he tallied five.)

As for the nightmare of '09, it was one of those days where Dublin "got caught cold" by a Colm Cooper goal inside a minute and never recovered.

"We learned a lot of harsh lessons that day. Pat Gilroy has said himself that he certainly wasn't going to let that happen again," he recounts.

Watershed

But 2011, Brogan's standout campaign, also signified a collective watershed in Dublin's relationship with Kerry.

"Everyone knows that match could have gone either way, they were four up with whatever left and we managed to claw our way back into it," he says.

"So I think next Sunday will be no different. Two very good footballing teams will go hard at it and I don't think there'll be much in it at the end."

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