Thursday 14 December 2017

Brogan all set to lead from the front

All Star elect turns to county captain Cluxton for best advice on how to inspire Ireland against the Aussies

International Rules captain Bernard Brogan with manager Joe Kernan in Croke Park
International Rules captain Bernard Brogan with manager Joe Kernan in Croke Park

Bernard Brogan thinks he captained the NUI Maynooth Freshers team at some point - but he's not one-hundred-per cent sure about that either.

Otherwise, he hasn't captained so much as a five-a-side team.

He has won three All-Irelands, been Footballer of the Year back in 2010 and represents a tap-in for a fourth All Star in just a couple of weeks time but at 31 years of age, through club, county and various elite youth levels, he has never struck any of his managers as the man with whatever it is they call 'captaincy material'.

"It's a call I didn't expect to get," said this year's Irish International Rules captain.

"He (Joe Kernan) rang me a few weeks ago and asked me to get involved and said he wanted me to be captain.


"I haven't done much captaincy in my life with club and county. I've been on the end of some great leaders with club and county.

"All I can do is try and do my best for the team, try and motivate them."

How much captain-ing has he done, so?

"None," Brogan shrugs. "It's not much is it?!"

For his part, Kernan didn't hesitate when asked to justify his selection.

"You want a leader," the Armagh All-Ireland winning manager outlined.

"You want someone that is respected, you want someone that is playing well and Bernard ticks all those boxes.

"He has ticked a lot of boxes in his career and this is a nice one to add to his list.

"But that main reason was he has been playing well. He's hungry to play which is very important and he was delighted when I asked him."

Naturally enough then, Brogan picked up the phone to Stephen Cluxton, a former Ireland captain himself under Anthony Tohill in 2011, before he was ever asked to undertake the role with Dublin. "I was chatting to him about it and what he would have mentioned is the lads are all top footballers from all different parts of the country and it's about getting everyone to know each other, to communicate, get them to talk and get them to do as much team-building as they can and get to know as many of them as you can."

As Brogan admits, the flashy corner-forward isn't everyone's idea of an on-field leader but when he's asked to consider it, he concedes: "If I was ever asked to captain Dublin, I'd love it as well."

It would constitute the ticking of a very obviously unticked box, just as playing a championship match outside the white lines of Croke Park.

Brogan has, it seems, become the protagonist in the statistic most often regurgitated by those annually irked by Dublin's summer residency in the Jones' Road.

That, at 31, he has never played a Championship match elsewhere, a run that looks very much like ending next summer, with moves afoot to bring the All-Ireland champions to either Nowlan Park or Portlaoie, depending on the identity of their Leinster quarter-final opponents.

"I think it would be great for the game, great for wherever we went," Brogan insists.


"The Dubs fans would love to go on the road. We'll play anywhere we're put, we just want to play football and to play for Dublin, so if we're asked to go down the country it's great.

"I was on the bench for the last time we were away in Longford. The sun was splitting the stones in Longford, and it was an unreal day.

"We only just got out of jail down there, Mark Vaughan got a goal," he recalls. "But I remember talking to people, and this conversation always comes up, and they say it was the best day of commerce the town had ever done, the best day's craic and it really does help the whole town and the energy around the place.

"So we'd be delighted to travel if asked and obviously playing in Croke Park, if you ask the teams we play against, everyone wants to play in Croke Park as well.

"But if we're asked to move down the road, no panic at all. We'd love an 'oul trip down the country.

"If that question is asked of us we'd love to answer it because we want to be seen as a successful team and for the right reasons."

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