Friday 15 December 2017

Tomas Brady in a bunch sprint to nail Dub slot

Na Fianna man keen to cause a selection headache after Flynn and Connolly return

Tomas Brady
Tomas Brady
Paul Flynn

PUTTING questions in Jim Gavin's head … that's how Tomás Brady sums up his own personal mission as this one-time Dublin hurling powerhouse seeks to become a summer mainstay for the Sky Blue footballers.

Brady knows the score: there are no soft places on this Dublin team.

It just so happens there are even less of them in the half-forward line that's been home for the past few months.

Formerly more a man on the fringes, the Na Fianna clubman has started nine consecutive games this year - five in the O'Byrne Cup, four in the Allianz League - and is aiming to reach double-digits in Castlebar tomorrow night.


The last time Brady enjoyed such uninterrupted security of tenure in Sky Blue, he was wearing a helmet. His football career since switching inter-county codes has been truncated by a combination of serious injury (a torn cruciate in 2013, his first season) and red-hot competition.

This year, with a clutch of regulars out of commission, he has been one of Dublin's most consistent players.

But we all know who has made the No 10 jersey his own over the past four All Star seasons - Paul Flynn, who was back for his 2015 baptism, off the bench, against Tyrone. Add a certain No 12 called Diarmuid Connolly, on the cusp of a return any game soon.

That puts Brady's long-term selection challenge into daunting perspective - but the man himself has a refreshing approach to same.

"Some lads don't fancy playing in the winter but when your game-time has been limited over the last 12 months, you definitely enjoy the chance to play," the 27-year-old stresses.

"With those two guys (Flynn and Connolly) to come back, they are All Stars and two of the best players in the country and are going to get in somewhere.

"All I can do is concentrate on doing what I can and what I am being asked to do. Hopefully put those questions in Jim's head when he is picking the team, and put yourself in the frame for big games later on in the year. I have to focus on what I can do rather than worry about what other players are there, and work on what I can control."

Staying in control of their own collective fate has proven somewhat more problematic for Dublin in recent weeks. Their prospects of a Division One hat-trick and their status as the team to beat have both taken something of a pummelling with their defeat in Kerry followed by last Saturday's fortuitous draw with Tyrone.

Dublin's ability to break down a massed defence, such as Tyrone's, has been questioned. They suddenly find themselves in the relegation zone, facing a trek to table-topping Mayo, whose last home outing against the Dubs (in 2012) resulted in a 0-20 to 0-8 cakewalk.


"It is a tough place to go to," Brady admits. "But Tyrone beat them in Castlebar, and we are going there looking for two points and know, if we win, we have a chance to get to the play-offs.

"Guys are getting a good opportunity to play compared to the last two years. We have stuttered a bit so far but have also played some good football at certain times in games. We just need more patience.

"Mayo are not as defensive-minded team as some of the northern teams, so we should get far more chances up front. But Mayo have excellent defenders and great man-to-man markers like Keith Higgins, who is probably the best in the country.

"You expect, playing Mayo, to have a more open game but that will also suit Mayo because they also have some excellent forwards."

Not every opponent sets up that way, however - a point readily underlined by Dublin's struggle to breach Tyrone's massed defence until Dean Rock's late equalising goal.

"We had a plan to counteract that but we had a lot of kicking errors and rushed our shots," Brady explains.

"It's definitely a challenge trying to get scores against a system like that and was a great learning experience.

"Patience is the key," he stresses. "We have worked a lot on that - that when we have possession to control it and to wait for the right option. At times on Saturday we didn't do that ... so we definitely have a lot to work on, but I think that will benefit us in the long-term."



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