Alan Brogan has admitted it’s a near certainty that younger brother Bernard will retire after the All-Ireland final replay and reckons he deserves to do so with a jersey on his back.
Jim Gavin showed his ruthless streak by omitting Brogan from Dublin’s 26-man squad for the drawn final with Kerry, despite the likelihood of it being the 35-year-old’s last opportunity to play.
It was the second game running that Brogan didn’t make the 26 though on both occasions Dublin’s subs failed to record a single score, placing Gavin under pressure to consider a recall.
Such a move would play well with those who believe the six-time All-Ireland winner deserves to at least tog out for his last game. Asked if it’s likely to be Bernard’s last stand, sibling Alan nodded.
“Yeah, more than likely,” said the former Dublin captain. “He’s 35 now, he tore his cruciate last year. Last year could have been his last year if he’d played it out. Now he’s spent a couple of years on the bench so I wouldn’t be putting words in his mouth by any means but if I was a betting man it probably looks like it is his last year.
“I think for a man that has given the service that he’s given to the Dublin jersey, he probably deserves a place on the 26. But obviously managers don’t manage with any sentiment. But from my biased point of view, I hope he gets the send-off he deserves.
“At the same time, and I’ve said this to him myself, his Dublin career isn’t defined by what’s happened in the last 12 or 18 or 24 months, it’s what he’s done over the course of 12 or 13 years that when he does finally decide to go that will mark him down as one of the all-time Dublin greats.”
Sean Bugler, a club-mate at St Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh, was Man of the Match against Tyrone but also hasn’t featured since then.
Yet instead of highlighting the embarrassment of riches at Dublin’s disposal, there is a growing school of thought that Dublin’s bench isn’t actually as strong as it’s been made out.
Aside from the subs’ failure to score against Kerry — the first time that’s happened in seven finals under Gavin — the manager also declined to use his full allocation of substitutes, just the second time he’s done that in 47 Championship games.
He also waited until the 68th minute to bring on his third substitute, Diarmuid Connolly.
“I’m not sure what was going on there, it looked like he was ready to make the subs and then he held back, unless there was something going on with injury on the field, that he thought he had to hold on,” said Brogan.
Brogan also highlighted Dublin’s apparent lack of response to Kerry’s introduction of Tommy Walsh in the 53rd minute.
“I think the (Kerry) subs and taking off a defender for Tommy Walsh to come on kind of changed the game,” said Brogan, who retired after hitting 0-1 as a sub in the 2015 final win over Kerry.
“I don’t think Dublin realised that at all and all of a sudden Kerry had seven attackers on the field and Dublin are minus a defender.
“As a result, James McCarthy obviously had to go back and then Sean O’Shea got a bit of space and kicked a few scores.
“We all know the damage that Tommy Walsh did, so I think Peter Keane was very astute on the line and that played a huge part in Kerry coming as close as they did.”
Whether Gavin opts to include Brogan on the bench, or recalls Eoin Murchan in defence — as the elder Brogan anticipates — there is certain to be a response from the Dublin manager who memorably changed a fifth of his team for the 2016 final replay defeat of Mayo.
“From what I know of Jim Gavin, that match will be forensically analysed and there are a lot of learnings from Dublin and a lot of areas for them improve, I would expect Jim to do that,” said Brogan.
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