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Tuesday 24 October 2017

No doubting Cross the dual divide

Na Fianna man Brady harbours no regrets about his switch to the Dublin footballers

THERE were enlightened Dublin GAA people on both sides of the dual divide who wondered aloud what exactly Tomás Brady thought he was doing when he ditched the county's senior hurling panel for football last year.

"Growing up," he explains, "I always played football and hurling equally as much. I love both sports.

"It's something I always wanted to do. At the time, it was a decision I felt was right."

Bona fides

Not that anyone questioned his big ball bona fides.

But at 25, having not played at a level higher than senior club with a Na Fianna team undergoing a period of sustained transition since he was an Under 21, his prospects didn't seem great.

"I played three years at Under 21," he says, outlining his credentials.

"And I was playing at a high level for Na Fianna all along in Championship. I always had belief.

"Obviously you're a bit rusty. After time spent brushing up on your skills, you get up to the pace pretty quick. But inter-county level, there's a lot of expectations.

"But we place a big emphasis on skill levels so just getting better and sharper all the time."

The hurlers in the county would grumble. He knew that. Some considered Brady's migration a betrayal.

Yet the only reason he was initially 'Dublin hurler Tomás Brady' was because the hurlers asked him first.

Mind you, it wasn't for the want of asking that Pat Gilroy didn't make a convert of Brady during his spell in charge.

"Yeah. There was opportunities there," Brady half confirms. "But at the time, I was enjoying my hurling. So it wasn't really and issue."

So why then?

"It was now or never at the time," he explains, adding that had another year passed, the adjustment might have been too great a trouble.

"Dublin are lucky that there are teams in both codes that are consistently challenging for honours. So just lucky to be able to represent in both codes."

He never tired so Brady might not be speaking from a position of experience when he talks about the possible of playing both sports at elite level but he's considered it all the same.

Flexibility

"I suppose it's a difficult one. For me personally, I don't think it would be possible with work commitments.

"I don't have that flexibility there. Technically the sports are very different as well.

"Especially at this level, the demands are so high and the recovery time in between games and sessions, you need that so I certainly think it would be very difficult.

"In saying that, possibly if you were a student and you have more time on your hands, it might be feasible that way."

The notion that Brady will get his crack at football stardom, fade after a couple of years and retake up arms with the hurlers doesn't seem to fit in with his own plans.

Brady is, at inter-county level, a footballer now and after working his way through an initial acclimatisation period and battling back from injury, he's closer to the action than at any stage before.

Those who saw him at underage dominate game from centre-back or lurk threateningly at the edge of the edge will be fascinated into his utilisation as a midfielder.

Brady has always been brutishly strong but so too is he quicker across the ground than most give him credit.

Dimension

His two points after coming on for Cian O'Sullivan against Wexford showed another dimension to Brady's game.

"I definitely think you have to be fitter in football," he says of the recalibration of his talents to fit the sport.

"You get the ball, you probably have to ship two tackles to make a five yard hand pass.

"Whereas in hurling, you get the opportunity to clear your lines 50 or 60 yards. So I probably found it different.

"In terms of hurling, the skill level is extremely high.

"But football, it's physically more demanding. It's just the intricacies that are different like that.

"But by and large, you still have to be fit playing with your county, no matter what code it is."

"For anyone, you're always trying to improve on your speed over five metres, to get that yard ahead. Because it's one on one battles.

"Going for that ball, whoever's quickest off the mark is going to get possession.

"Agility, as well, plays a big part. So you're working on your agility and looking at other sports and what they do.

"I always look at Youtube clips, at drills that other guys are doing. Trying to encompass that into your training."

All of which sounds like a man comfortable with environs, his decision and the task into which he faces.

"If you're playing at this level, you have belief in yourself. There's always expectation there. And lads are comfortable with that. The talent is second to none," Brady concludes.

"But guys know that if you do perform, you'll get a chance."

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