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Young guns have edge - Brogan

FOR Alan Brogan, it was always about winning that elusive All-Ireland medal. The first one was all that mattered.

So now that his career-long goal has finally been achieved, what is there left to do? Eh, go win a second one!

This is arguably the biggest challenge facing Brogan et al when they set out in defence of Sam Maguire next January. Dublin's journey to the September summit has been an arduous 16-year affair, littered with many painful tumbles, and the elder Brogan has been an integral part of that experience since 2002. Yet the recent failure-strewn history of defending champions suggests that this may actually have been the easy part.

Bar Kerry in 2007, no team has achieved back-to-back All-Irelands in the last 20 years. That is the daunting conundrum for the recently decorated Dubs: how do they replicate the same effort, intensity, hunger, when not winning is no longer the end of your world?

"I think that's a problem for any team that have been starved of success and then they win," mused Brogan, speaking at a Croke Park press conference where he was unveiled as one of 45 nominees for the 2011 GAA GPA Football All Stars -- as well as the Footballer of the Month for June.

"Look, it is going to be difficult but it's something we won't address now; we'll address it in January."

Difficult, but not insurmountable. Brogan, a 29-year-old veteran of 10 championships, has definitely signed up for next season when he reckons the younger guns will lead the way.

"There's a young team there and they don't really know anything else only winning football matches," he explains. "They haven't had the same sort of defeats that a few of the older guys have had. So I think those will be the guys that will really push the older fellas on, to try and win more.

"I don't think there'll be anyone leaving the panel. We'll all be back looking to give it another go."



Calmness

He expands: "There has been a great mix of youth and experience and I have said all along that that is what has probably given us that extra edge.

"The couple of younger guys coming in have made a huge difference.

"Even the likes of Cian O'Sullivan getting back to fitness after a bad couple of years. He was a player we really needed because of his pace coming up against players like Declan and Darran O'Sullivan.

"You need a lad like that who can stick with them for pace. He gave us a sense of calmness."

Brogan himself is in a pretty serene place right now. He finally has that Celtic Cross; he's viewed as a shoo-in for his third All Star when the team is announced on Friday, October 21; and he's also most people's tip to succeed his younger brother, Bernard, as Footballer of the Year.

Nothing, though, will match the immediate post-match buzz after beating Kerry.

"If you could get that half-an-hour on the field after the match back, it would be great," he reflects.



Buzz

"Special feelings like that are special because they only come around maybe once or a couple of times in your lifetime.

"Obviously there is a great sense of achievement, and such a buzz around the city. It seems to have lifted Dublin - probably not only Dublin, it seems to have lifted the country as well.

"It was probably the one day when everyone in the country was shouting for the Dubs.

"They might let us have one -- I'd say that would be it then!"

If that was the high point, the lowest ebb came in an All-Ireland semi-final five years earlier.

"Losing the lead to Mayo," he replies, when asked for his worst moment in Sky Blue.

"That was a game that we should have won and if we had got to a final that year, who knows what might have happened.

"But all those bad memories are banished now," he assures. "It was always just about winning an All-Ireland medal, and if I go on to win two or three or four ... of course it matters but it's not the end of the world for me anymore.

"It was all about winning an All-Ireland medal for myself, and a lot of the lads who have been there for 10 years.

"Like, you don't put that work in for 10 years without that being your ultimate goal," he concludes.