WHEN it comes to team honours and individual baubles, Bernard Brogan has won the lot. Two All-Ireland senior medals. Two National Leagues. An array of Leinster titles. Three All Stars. Footballer of the Year.
Correction ... Bernard Brogan has almost won the lot.
There is one glaring omission on the BB’ CV and the player himself doesn’t need reminding about it.
St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh have never won a Dublin senior football championship which, by extension, means their most potent and high-profile player has never won one either. And it hurts.
Strange as it may seem, given the inter-county summer jamboree is just under way, Brogan’s pursuit of that elusive county title is topical news because of what happened last week.
Plunkett’s toppled their arch-rival and frequent nemesis, Kilmacud Crokes, in last Thursday night’s first round clash at Clondalkin. The Navan Road boys prevailed by 3-10 to 2-11, despite a late Crokes revival that saw an 11-point margin whittled away to just two points at the finish.
And guess who scored 2-4 (2-1 from play), despite having Rory O’Carroll as his marker for much of the hour? Got it in one.
“It’s massive,” says Brogan of that club medal quest. “We have had a really good side over the last five or six years and haven’t got there - beaten in two finals (by Kilmacud in 2008 and St Brigid’s in 2011). I suppose the game with Kilmacud was the biggest hurt, being five points up with a few minutes to go, and they got two goals.”
That summation only tells half the story of the one that got away. Six years ago, Brogan wasn’t very long-established as a Dublin senior; his prodigious talent was known to all on the capital circuit but he was still very much Alan’s younger brother.
But in that replayed ’08 decider, he delivered one of the most memorable individual displays seen on a losing team. He scored 10 points, seven from play, despite being shadowed by Dublin’s pre-eminent man-marker of the time, Paul Griffin.
“A good day for me personally,” he recalls, but a “massively disappointing” one for the club. “We were still a young team. We’d great potential and played great stuff all year. You go away from it and say it was disappointing (but) we’d be there next year. But teams always say win it when you’re there’, because you don’t know when it’ll be back again.
“We just haven’t had the run of luck with the club the last few years, so it was great to get the confidence back against a Crokes team who are the best in the business,” he goes on. “It was great for the young lads. Niall Walsh came on and a couple young lads made their debuts. That was the difference. These lads, it’ll give them massive confidence.”
He harks back to the “massive disappointment” of last season’s first round exit to Ballinteer St John’s; Plunkett’s were beset by injuries at the time, with Alan a notable absentee, but went on to prove they are a “solid team” by winning the Dublin B’ championship.
“This year is probably the first time we have had a full complement and had only one injury, Conor Walsh. It was the first time myself, Alan
Toppling Crokes has suddenly catapulted Plunkett’s back into the realm of genuine Dublin contenders, but one swallow never made a summer and, speaking of summer-time, some serious business in Sky Blue comes first.
Brogan’s first appearance of 2014 (indeed his first since last year’s All-Ireland final) didn’t come until last month’s cameo comeback during the league semi-final against Cork. The subsequent evidence - against Derry in the league final when he tallied 1-6 on his first seasonal start, and then against Crokes last week - suggests that his enforced absence from a long-term osteitis pubis problem may have been a blessing in disguise.
“I know we’ve all probably gone into games with little niggles here and there, and you get through games - sometimes you play well, sometimes you don’t,” the player surmises.
“But coming back from the injury this year, I feel 100 per cent and I haven’t felt like that for two or three years, where you just feel no injury and no niggles. So hopefully, touch wood, I can keep the body right ... and hopefully be able to give it 100 per cent come the championship.”