You might be surprised to hear where Bernard Brogan ranks himself in the natural talent pecking order in the Dublin forward line.
Since 2009, he has looked a born finisher but his self-assessment is less flattering. “I’m not a Cormac Costello or a Ciarán Kilkenny that is just naturally gifted.
“I worked really hard to get to where I am with Dublin. As you know, I spent three years on the bench and made my debut at 24 and had a cruciate injury at 20.
“I did it the hard way, I got to play with Dublin the long way around so I appreciate that and I’m very conscious of it when I’m playing.”
Brogan simply feels the likes of Costello and Kilkenny’s skills were nurtured better by an under-age system that is the envy of the country.
“Naturally talented, the guys are amazing footballers. Paul Mannion, Cormac Costello, Ciarán Kilkenny. They came up through the ranks and were a lot more mentally stronger and physically able for the senior set-up and were able to come into the team and just row in with it. I went the longer route. It took me a while to break into it, to get my head right to be able to offer something on the pitch.
“It’s a credit to the under-age system Dublin have implemented over the last 10 years to see the likes of Rory O’Carroll, Ciarán Kilkenny, Cormac Costello and now Con O’Callaghan and these lads coming through.
“They’re in that high performance (approach) all the way up from 14, 15 through minor and successful teams. I didn’t play under-age for Dublin, I didn’t get picked, I played minor hurling, a little bit of U21 and got injured. I didn’t have that upbringing and that high-performance kind of training set-up that these guys came through.”
Admitting he fears for his place, Brogan believes it’s sheer graft that has made him an ever-present in the team these last nine championship seasons.
“I’m a Dublin fan and I love playing for Dublin. Every time I wake up in the morning, I’m thankful for the situation I’m in and I go out in every training session to make sure I’m good enough in Jim’s eyes and the management’s eyes to get my place.
“I’m lucky enough to have played every (SFC) game I’ve played since I’ve been fit in 2007 and I want to continue that for another year or two anyway.
“My objective is to keep pushing.”
Gavin has been known to show little respect for reputations, whipping the likes of Brogan off early in second halves, but there’s always an explanation, according to the player. “He’s very good at feedback. All players want to know where they’re at so anytime anyone wants to ask him where they’re at, he’s very honest.
“If I wasn’t playing, I’d say ‘what do I need to do?’ and he’d say ‘you need to work on your striking. Your accuracy from play hasn’t been as good as Cormac Costello or Paddy Andrews and that’s why you’re not playing’. That’s the type of feedback he would give you.
“As a player, there are two things that you want – you want to get your place on form and then honest feedback instead of the ‘oh yeah, you’re in great shape’ and then you don’t get picked and that’s it, you don’t hear anything for three weeks. “Honesty is a key thing that Jim has brought.”
Brogan may have a humble estimation of his skills but as a diplomat he’s right up there. He kicks for touch when asked for a reaction to Tomás Ó Sé’s “scumbag” comment.
“Tomás Ó Sé is a legend but he’s doing his punditry bits and pieces. We don’t pay much attention to that as you know. We focus on what goes on in our circle. If you look outside, that’s when you fall by the wayside and get caught.”
Meanwhile, Brogan confirmed he is in the process of purchasing a pub in Kilkenny city, the venue for Saturday week’s Leinster quarter-final against Laois in what should be his first championship action outside Croke Park after 10 seasons of senior inter-county football.
The news comes after his father Bernard Snr purchased the Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne for €8 million. It’s understood the pub is Shem’s Bar on John Street. “We’re looking at a pub in Kilkenny,” he confirmed. “I like the pub trade. It’s something I’m interested in. The hotels is more my Dad than me and Alan.”
Bernard Brogan was speaking at the launch of SuperValu’s associate sponsorship of the All-Ireland SFC. Super Valu have renewed their support until 2019 and the continuation of its Kit for Kids initiative.
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