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Monday 18 December 2017

Alan Brogan to bide time on Dublin return

Gavin blasts third level scheduling after losing defensive prospect Small to injury

Dublin stalwart Alan Brogan
Dublin stalwart Alan Brogan

ALAN Brogan will wait until after the imminent arrival of his second child before setting a date for his repatriation to the Dublin panel, although it is increasingly likely that he will be back for a 14th season in blue.

"Alan's wife is expecting their second child any day now, so that's where his focus needs to be, with his family," explained Dublin boss, Jim Gavin who, while confirming he had conducted a broad discussion with the 2011 Footballer of the Year about his near-future intentions, declined to indulge specifics.

"We have spoken in the backroom," he added.

"Hopefully things go well on that front and when he's ready, I'll be ready."

It seems implausible, however, that Brogan would leave Gavin and his team-mates waiting until March or later only to end his association with the Dublin senior team.

Last year, no announcement was made over whether Brogan had committed for the 2014 season until such time as he appeared at centre-half forward in the Dublin team in Croke Park for their League opener on February 1st against Kerry, although at this remove, it is highly unlikely that he will see action before the final rounds of this year's competition.

Gavin went on to express his frustration with the scheduling of the third level competitions, both in the volume of fixtures and their proximity to League games, having lost John Small to injury for what looks like a month.

The Ballymun centre-back, Man of the Match against Donegal in Croke Park, played on consecutive days for St Pat's in the Trench Cup.

"The way the third level competition is designed, despite the advice given by Dr Pat O'Neill and his committee, that playing games back to back inside 24 hours isn't in the best of a player's welfare," Gavin stated.

"And he succumbed to a soft tissue injury that he picked up from playing two games inside 24 hours."

Emmet Ó Conghaile, named to start but similarly failing to do so, "picked up a soft tissue injury playing with his club, Lucan Sarsfields, last Sunday."

Of his St Vincent's contingent, newly available to Gavin after their failure to reach a second successive All-Ireland club semi-final, he explained: "I have left them alone. They had a fantastic journey over the past two years.

"They need to recharge the batteries. They are very keen to come back," said Gavin, declining to divulge which players, Diarmuid Connolly and Ger Brennan besides, would be called in.

Mick Fitzsimons is, barring a successful appeal, suspended for Saturday's visit of Tyrone to Croke Park and while Gavin intimated such a course of action would be forthcoming if a second viewing of the incident confirmed that the Cuala defender was hard done by, Dublin are unlikely to have any joy, given the optics of Fitzsimons' lunge at Fionn Fitzgerald.

persist

Injuries and suspensions besides, the likelihood is that Dublin manager will, where possible, persist with the bones of the team that lost in Killarney last Sunday.

"We are giving players the opportunity to not only stake a place in the starting 15 but also the squad as well," he explained of his priorities for this early juncture of the League.

"We played a very competitive Kerry side. 12 of that 15 played in the All-Ireland final last September.

"Most of their replacements had played in that game as well. They were very strong and a fantastic opportunity for our guys to challenge and I thought they did very well playing a team like Kerry."

Asked whether Dublin's League table position (sixth) would influence his team selection for Saturday, Gavin replied: "No. We have a process to go through," adding that there was no pressing need to expose the likes of Stephen Cluxton, Michael Darragh Macauley, Paul Flynn or James McCarthy to action.

"They are training with us," he outlined.

"They played in the internal games with us during the weeks. If there was an urgency, we would have played them (against Kerry)."

"Championship has always been our number one focus. The championship series, the Leinster championship and then the national league - that has always been our approach."

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