He will be firmly in his beloved Crokes’ colours at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney tomorrow but Brosnan still has a soft spot for the Cork college, always keeping an eye on their fortunes, especially this year.
“I was talking to Johnny (Buckley) and Daithi (Casey) all through the summer, asking them how things were going with UCC.
“I remember being down in Fota with Kerry when we got the news that Nemo Rangers had been beaten on a Saturday evening. That was a huge surprise,” the Killarney-based solicitor recalled.
“The lads could see then that the Cork championship was wide open, and they knew if they performed to their potential that they had a good chance of winning it. I went to the Cork final, predominantly to support Daithi and Johnny at the time but also to keep an eye on them just in case we would meet in Munster.”
As it worked out, both Crokes and UCC won through in their opposite sides of the provincial draw to set up this intriguing decider, with the Cork champions now trying to emulate the college’s famous 1999 county championship and Munster club winning season, which Brosnan was part of.
“They were a fantastic bunch of players, a great team and the talent that was there was only recognised in the years after when you see the amount of fellas that went on to play inter-county,” the Dr Crokes centre-back said.
“From Kerry alone, you had Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Paul Galvin, myself, Liam Murphy, Ian Twiss, Michael D Cahill; they all played at some level with Kerry, either National League or championship.
“Then you had Damien Reidy in Limerick, Michéal Ó Croinin in Cork, Eamon Hanrahan in Tipperary and Francis Wallace in Wexford, all very good players.”
While he missed the 10-year reunion in 2009, organised by Fitzmaurice, Brosnan is still in close contact with several of his former UCC team-mates. He watched this year’s Cork final alongside Cork goalkeeper Alan Quirke, while that day he also met Gareth Kelliher, Jim Kennedy, Kevin Donovan, Dr Con Murphy and a few other faces from the 1999 set up.
In the three years he studied law in UCC, football was always to the forefront of Brosnan’s college experience, from when he enrolled as a fresh-faced 17-year-old the Monday morning after Kerry’s much-needed 1997 All-Ireland final win over Mayo, still celebrating after the trip home from Dublin, to his graduation in May 2000.
Great days indeed, but any regrets? He said: “We never won a Sigerson Cup which was a disappointment but it goes to show the talent that’s in the college at the moment that they have won the Sigerson and the Cork county championship in the one year. It shows what a big challenge we have ahead tomorrow.”
And from his scouting mission at UCC’s Cork final win over Castlehaven, Brosnan made that familiar journey home to Killarney suitably impressed by what he saw: “Sean Kiely at wing-back, Niall Daly at centre-back, they are fellas we wouldn’t know about in Kerry but they are very good players. They have a very strong midfield, very big there. And obviously they have the Kerry fellas we know all about, like Peter Crowley, Paul Geaney, JB Spillane.”
As for Crokes own form, Brosnan feels improvement is a necessity.
“We know we have a lot of work to do. If we perform to the same level as we did against Kilmurry, we will be beaten,” he said.
“It’s easy to say that there is room to improve but it hasn’t happened yet.”
One matter already wrapped up before Christmas is Brosnan’s decision to commit to the Kerry senior panel again next season, following a strong comeback this year.
“I am looking forward to it. The body is in good shape. I enjoyed my football this year with club and county.
“If I felt I had nothing to offer Kerry, I wouldn’t hang around. But I feel that I do have something to offer the county.”