Factor in three county final defeats as a player, to South Kerry (2005, 2006 and 2009) and you begin to understand the place he trawls for motivation.
“Growing up, I remember coming out of Austin Stack Park and the Crokes having lost finals in 1987 to Kenmare and in 1988 to St Kieran’s. I remember 1994 in Fitzgerald Stadium and losing to Stacks in a replay. I remember how hard it was for those Crokes teams to get to that level,” he recalls.
“In 2000, we probably stole a county championship against a fantastic An Ghaeltacht team (they won 1-4 to 0-6). So, certainly, a county championship medal in Dr Crokes colours is a cherished medal.”
You see, even the first win was a ‘steal’, a lucky one. Part of the sportsman’s psyche is to ignore the wins. It is defeat that steels the soul and prepares you for battle.
“What we talk of a good bit is that we have had our fair share of losses. Those stand to us: we lost three county finals and an All-Ireland club final in 2007 and we have lost All-Ireland club semi-finals as well. Those losses have built the character of this team. When the game gets tight in Fitzgerald Stadium (tomorrow) we will be relying on that character to hopefully give us a bit extra.”
Crokes went through the agony of consistently losing to South Kerry from the mid-2000s on. This Austin Stacks team have lost to Dr Crokes at various stages in the last three county championships, including the 2010 county final. Brosnan notes the mirror image between the Crokes of 2010 and their opponents.
“I remember when we were playing South Kerry there was a desperation on our part to beat them. It was a win-at-all costs mentality. When we did beat them (2010 county semi-final) it was a huge thing for us.”
The three-time All-Ireland winner is expecting, and ready for, a manic approach from the Tralee men.
“It will certainly be very easy to rise the Stacks on Sunday. They are a very proud club and a proud bunch of players. They have been on the losing side against us over the last three years so it will be easy to rise the Stacks.”
For the 33-year-old Killarney solicitor, all that matters now is winning another county title. If successful, it will be his fifth county medal.
“Every win is special. The first will always be the sweetest so that’s the 2000 county final for me and winning my first All-Ireland medal also stands out.”
He is at pains though to point out that the black and amber-clad men from Rock Street, Tralee, will be ready to rock Fitzgerald Stadium.
“The Stacks lads are all going for their first title and they will bring manic hunger to this game, which we will have to match. The game will be helter-skelter.”
He is ready for “flashpoints” but that is all part of what a county final is about.
“It will be difficult enough to referee. There are going to be flashpoints where you have two hyped-up teams, clashing with each other. You would be hoping though that it will be played in a sporting manner.”
Brosnan’s experience has taught him that the county final arena is different. Players find an extra spring in their step. There’s more movement. It’s 60 minutes of chaos.
“The first couple of finals that I played against South Kerry, I remember trying to find my breath after 15 minutes. The pace of these games, and trying to get yourself into them, is a step up from everything. You can try and replicate it in training but it is only when you hit the ground that you realise you are in a county final and you have to get your second wind quick or the 60 minutes will be up.”
A week after that 1994 county final replay loss to Sunday’s opponents Austin Stacks, Brosnan lined out at full-forward as the Dr Crokes under-15 side beat Listowel Emmets — with Noel and Tadhg Kennelly — in a county final. Shane Myers, his current half-back accomplice, was man of the match [he won an O’Neill’s ball for his troubles] in that 2-8 to 2-6 win. Others like Kieran Cremin, James Cahillane and the late Martin Beckett also featured. In many ways that win was a start.
The defeats never seem to leave him but that is exactly why Eoin Brosnan and this Dr Crokes side can’t stop winning. Not yet anyway.