Saturday 16 December 2017

Alan: Diarmuid is scrutinised to 'nth' degree

Brogan reflects on latest woes of ex-Dub comrade

Alan Brogan at the launch of a new partnership between the GAA/GPA and Pat the Bakerto promote the new Protein Bread at Croke Park yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
Alan Brogan at the launch of a new partnership between the GAA/GPA and Pat the Bakerto promote the new Protein Bread at Croke Park yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile

Alan Brogan has sympathy for Diarmuid Connolly over the severity of a proposed 12-week ban that threatens havoc with his summer and even with Dublin's All-Ireland ambitions.

"Harsh" was the word repeatedly used yesterday as Brogan mulled over the potential ramifications of life without Connolly for the next three championship games at least.

But he also accepts that his former Sky Blue comrade is getting involved in too many scrapes for the good of himself or his team. "It's like Groundhog Day," admitted the 2011 Footballer of the Year. "In saying that, Diarmuid probably was foolish to do it. He should know, at this stage, he just can't get involved in situations like that because any situation he gets involved in is being blown up a lot more than anyone else.

"And I think if that was another player in a similar situation, it mightn't even have been raised at all. But because it's Dermo, he has this attention following him now, especially around discipline issues, unfortunately. And anything he does now is being scrutinised to the 'nth' degree, more so than anyone else.

"He's old and experienced enough to know that now, that he just shouldn't get involved in situations like that. And unfortunately it's just happened; probably happened too often."

Jack McGrath of the British & Irish Lions is tackled by Blues hooker James Parsons at Eden Park, Auckland yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Jack McGrath of the British & Irish Lions is tackled by Blues hooker James Parsons at Eden Park, Auckland yesterday. Photo: Getty Images


Brogan was in Croke Park for the launch of a new GAA/GPA partnership with Pat the Baker ... but, quelle surprise, the first item on the menu wasn't protein bread but Connolly's diet of disciplinary trouble.

The CCCC's recommended punishment for his ill-advised hand on the chest of linesman Ciarán Branagan is a 12-week suspension that would sideline the two-time All Star until an All-Ireland SFC semi-final ... presuming the holders stay involved that long.

"For what it was, by the letter of the law that's the rule and he has to get 12 weeks - but looking at the incident on its own, I think it's a little bit harsh," Brogan began. "To miss three matches, for what it was, seems very harsh to me.

"I think there's a lot of confusion, even from my own point of view, about how the suspensions work. Philly (McMahon) gets suspended for a game and then Diarmuid gets 12 weeks. But I think, in the public in general, people are wondering is it time suspensions, is it game suspensions, why is it happening like that?

"It's disappointing to see Diarmuid back in trouble. I'm sure he's the most disappointed this morning, having to deal with this again, having come out of I don't know how many incidents we've had in the last number of years. Probably too many at this stage, in fairness.

"But I do feel a bit sorry for him on this one."

Brogan surmised that Dublin would "probably swallow a two-game suspension, but I think 12 weeks just seems OTT to me - for what the incident was."

He expanded: "I think it was putting his hand on him to make a point rather than an aggressive … it's hard to put that into words in a newspaper, but I don't think it was a very aggressive gesture towards him. Now, he did gesticulate afterwards, it probably didn't look well, but I think the actual hand on the referee (linesman) was fairly innocuous, for me."

Given his spate of card trouble over the past 12 months, Brogan accepted that Connolly's discipline is an issue that needs addressing. But he added: "I know Dermo very well; people would ask me is he a hothead, and I wouldn't say he's a hothead now. Earlier on in his career he probably did things that he shouldn't have done, but now he's quite controlled.

"He's an experienced footballer, he's heading towards 30, he's a lot of game time under his belt and he's seen it all. So he should probably be a little bit wiser in the situations he's getting involved in."

Was it borne out of frustration at his own form? "There could have been a bit of that. He is getting attention that other lads aren't getting - and it's not all bad attention, it could just be a fella marking you really tightly," Brogan reflected.

"Probably the team as a whole was frustrated. But that's going to happen right throughout the championship, to all the Dublin lads.

"So there's probably a lesson for everyone. And Jim is big on discipline, so it will be addressed - I'm sure that Jim won't be happy about it internally.


"And I'm sure he'll have a strong word with everyone, that we just can't keep attracting attention to ourselves. Because Dublin obviously are scrutinised a little bit more, but I'd say it's probably just happening too often for his liking now."

Brogan fully expects Dublin to defend Connolly's corner before the Central Hearings Committee, and possibly beyond if it goes that far.

But what if the suspension ultimately sticks?

"They do have options," he said, "but like any team that loses a player of Diarmuid's calibre, it's a huge loss, and you only realise that when you need him in the really big games. There's no team can swallow a loss like that.

"But you would still expect Dublin to be coming out of the Leinster championship without Diarmuid. That's no disrespect to anyone else in the Leinster championship - and then it depends on who they get in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

"He will be a big loss but I think more so, if Dublin are in an All-Ireland semi-final, and they probably will be, in terms of him coming into that game not playing a competitive match in three months. That's not ideal.

"If you miss three or four matches it's hard to keep going at that level of training, knowing you aren't going to be playing games," he added. "Obviously he's a super athlete but even in terms of match sharpness, coming in cold into an All-Ireland semi-final, against a Kerry or a Mayo or someone like that, wouldn't be ideal.

"But I'm sure there'll be some sort of appeal around it because three games just doesn't fit with what the crime was for me."

Last question - should a player who turns 30 next month not have learned by now?

Brogan answered by citing his own experience: "In my own career I would have been involved in lots of situations early on but, as times goes past, you just learn to deal with that attention that bit better.

"Obviously Dermot gets lots of attention from everywhere, from opposition defenders, pulling the tail or whatever they call it. You would think he would be a little bit smarter at this stage in terms of how he deals with that. I'm sure it's something himself and Jim have discussed ... because he is being scrutinised a lot more now probably than any other player in Ireland."

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