Nine days out from an All-Ireland semi-final, Bernard Brogan is exhibiting no crisis of confidence despite there being reason to be doubtful of his form.
The spluttering Dublin attack have come in for stinging scrutiny this past while. Brogan has been substituted twice in the last three games while his fellow forward Diarmuid Connolly, sent off against Wexford earlier in the summer, has been described as “mentally weak” by Kerry’s Darragh Ó Sé.
The 2010 Footballer of the Year acknowledges his early exits against Wexford and Laois may have impacted on him in the past but not now.
“My legs were probably a bit tired at that stage. The mindset was probably bad after missing a few chances. It was the right thing to do and at the end of the day you want to win the games.
“I’ve no shame in being taken off the pitch. If I’m worn out I’ll put the hand up and I’ll come off. If it’s for the better of the team there is no problem in coming off and getting yourself right for the next day.
“All you do is try your best. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. I’d never be giving out or I’d never be upset about being taken off. Obviously, you want to play the game and you can be disappointed, but I’d never think about it again.
“It would just give me more motivation to go out and better yourself for the next day and try and be there for the final whistle.”
Alongside him, Connolly has struggled to shake off the tag of being a streaky player, scoring a delightful goal against Wexford only to be sent off later and under-performing against Laois. But Brogan says criticism of him, such as that from Ó Sé, is inaccurate.
“When Diarmuid is on song he’s the best footballer in the country. Like myself, the whole forward unit hasn’t really clicked yet and hopefully the next day it will.
“If you can get Diarmuid right he is lethal and there is not a defender in Ireland that will be able to stop him. It’s not mentally weak, for our forward unit we need to all work in sync. We need to work off each other and that’s what has worked for us in the past when we’ve played well.
The weekend before last, manager Pat Gilroy brought his panel for a training break to Kerry — “We did a good bit of training and went down and met Fungi, rock climbing and walking on stilts. It was a bit of craic,” smiled Brogan.
It broke up a long four-week break from the win over Laois, another example of Dublin failing to use their full cylinders. Brogan acknowledges that but maintains they won’t break from their formula.
“The games haven’t been as pretty and as fluent as some of the games last year but we are still sticking to the game plan, sticking to what we know worked for us and has got us this far.
“It mightn’t have been pretty but no one cares about pretty if you are standing on the Croke Park steps in September.”
With the Brogan brothers’ father’s family hailing from Foxford and former Mayo player Padraig Brogan being a cousin, Sunday week’s game has an added dimension to it for them.
Even without captain Andy Moran, Brogan feels Mayo are well-poised going into the semi-final.
“To be honest, I think Mayo are in a better position than we are. They’ve beaten us in the past. They know how to beat us. They are one of the few teams that have a system that beats this new Dublin team.
“They beat us emphatically in the league.
“Put us to bed fairly early in that game. They will have a group of players with huge confidence in Croke Park.”
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