'WE CAN'T BE ARROGANT'
Brennan says Dubs wary of over-confidence after their All-Ireland success
SUCCESS breeds self-belief, which in turn breeds even more success. Ger Brennan hopes this maxim applies to the Dublin footballers in 2012.
But there is, he warns, a thin line between believing in yourself and believing your own publicity. The key for Dublin this season is keeping faith on the field without losing their humility.
"It really is a fine balance between arrogance and confidence," Brennan told the Evening Herald today.
"Time will tell this year whether we are arrogant or confident. I would like to think that we are confident (but that) we're humble lads just working on our skills to hopefully win another championship, who knows?
"Success breeds success. It's a nice position to be in, but it's quite a precarious position as well," the centre-back cautioned.
In the absence of suspended captain Bryan Cullen, Brennan will skipper the All-Ireland champions in their 'Spring Series' clash with Armagh at Croke Park this Sunday.
The St Vincent's clubman is dismissive of any kudos attached to 'wearing the armband', insisting that Dublin have become a team of leaders during their roller-coaster rise to the All-Ireland summit.
"I'm not captain -- Bryan Cullen is captain -- and on the day there are so many leaders within this current squad that it's merely a formality that needs to be put down on paper," he demurred.
"It doesn't affect me in what I'm trying to do anyway. There are a lot of leaders on each line and in each position on the pitch.
"I think Pat (Gilroy) and the management team have empowered lads to take ownership of what they're doing, and not to shy away in the limelight of the so-called bigger names. Particularly the young lads coming in.
"You can see that even with young Davy Byrne coming in there (against Laois last Saturday) and James McCarthy; they are all voicing their opinions and it's all a positive contribution to the team."
This weekend's Croker collision with Armagh will offer a greater clue as to whether Dublin are shaping up for another sustained shot at the Allianz League crown they came so close to capturing last year.
Brennan insists he is not one for looking back, but admits that surrendering an eight-point cushion in last year's top-flight decider against Cork proved an unlikely springboard to the All-Ireland success that followed.
"I think for me, personally, that was a massive turning point -- similar to the (All-Ireland) semi-final the previous year," he suggested.
"Being up five points in the semi-final and up by eight against Cork in the league final, and then to start doing silly stuff with the ball and making the wrong decisions, selfish decisions. So a lot of soul-searching was done after that game.
"Had we won (the league final), would we have won the All-Ireland? Who knows, it's hearsay really. But I think it was a very, very important defeat for us going forward."
Ironically, another potential watershed in Dublin's gradual climb to the summit came the previous summer -- 2010 -- with a nerve-tingling qualifier against Armagh when Philly McMahon's late goal-line clearance helped ensure victory.
"I think Tipperary was the week leading into that, and we had a poor performance -- I was terrible myself that day against Tipp," Brennan recounted.
"We had some hard soul-searching that week leading into the Armagh game, and I think we were up for that game. But Armagh are an extremely talented team and that was two years ago," he pointed out. "They've beaten Kerry in Tralee, they've drawn with Cork and were unlucky against Mayo, so they're an up-and-coming team and they're in a very healthy position in the league."
Finally, what does Brennan make of Dublin's run of three suspensions arising from their first 'two-and-a-half' league games, including Cullen's retrospective citing from the Laois game?
"I think we're going for a record to get someone suspended each game this year!" he quipped before adding, on a more serious note: "If I wasn't involved in the county team, I'd be inclined to look in and say that teams which are actually live on TV seem to be the teams that get done.
"So there's a massive inconsistency to how the process is being applied. But then again, the GAA have their job to do. If there is a process, which they do have, I think it should be across the board in all games if they're looking for consistency."
DUBLIN (SF v Armagh): M Savage; D Daly, R O'Carroll, P McMahon; J McCarthy, G Brennan, C Dias; MD Macauley, E Fennell; P Brogan, A Brogan, P Flynn; D Connolly, E O'Gara, T Quinn.
ARMAGH: P McAvoy; A Mallon, B Donaghy, D McKenna; K Dyas, C McKeever, P Duffy; J Lavery, J Kingham; A Forker, M Mackin, C Watters; C Rafferty, A Duffy, B Mallon.