Last Sunday night, with 30 Brogans taking up three tables at Dublin’s medal presentation, Bernard smiled to himself.
It’s moments like those that energise him, he says. They’re addictive and they’ll fill him with the impetus to defend the Sam Maguire Cup next year when he turns 30.
Nothing should sully his second All-Ireland title in a thoroughly deserved success for Dublin. And yet they must still face questions about the lengths they went to in order to protect the lead they cultivated against Mayo.
Few other teams, if any, would do anything differently, but then Dublin had painted themselves to be above such nonsense.
Jim Gavin said it was simply down to frustration his players gave away so many late frees. Brogan, who himself earned a yellow card for interfering with the ball when he had given away a free, calls it “a bit over-exuberant”.
“That was just the heat of the moment, I think,” he recalls of his foul. “I was tracking back for one of the few times in my life. I wouldn’t be too au fait with tackling, I was just trying to row in with the rest of the team. The game was in the balance, it was just about getting stuck in to try to get a hand in and block the ball. We were on the back foot and Mayo were coming at us so were trying to stop them. That’s what happened. We were maybe a bit over-exuberant at times then. It’s a hard one to call.”
Gavin had also claimed Dublin, Brogan in particular, didn’t get their fair share of frees. The player, a third time All Star last week, would tend to agree with his manager, although he makes a couple of qualifications.
“I’m the free-taker and I’m able to see the amount of frees I’m able to take.
“I like the bit of rumble and tumble in the games. I don’t ever look for frees, I don’t go down feigning injury. I believe in trying to go by a man and then if you’re pulled, fine.
“I don’t think we get a lot of frees but I’m not saying that we’re still getting fouled a lot — the free count is just gone down. It’s a hard one to call. I don’t think the referees are going out there to not give Dubs lads frees.”
Gavin, as if anyone didn’t know, is already planning for next year. For starters, the squad will have their team holiday over and done with by early next month.
Brogan figures they will have to change their expansive tactics as the targets on their backs grow with being the kingpins. Next season they will hope to join a select group of Kerry and Cork that have retained All-Ireland titles over the last 23 years.
“In 2012, we trained as hard, we probably ran more miles than we did in 2011 to try to get to that level because we knew we had to do more to get there again. It will be the same next year. I don’t know what it is, sometimes it’s just that innate hunger that maybe we didn’t have in 2012. In 2011, we were animals going for that ball.
“It was only in the last 20 minutes against Mayo that we clicked back into gear in 2012, we’re hoping we can learn from that and we need to have that hunger.”
Brogan knows he must mind himself better, though, after playing roughly 11 weeks in a row earlier this year and sensing it may have detracted from his form in the championship.
Feeling he lacked sharpness in 2012 after heading to Australia following the All-Ireland, he asked Gavin to start him in as many games as possible this year, including O’Byrne Cup matches.
“I also played Railway Cup and just ran out of steam. I missed the International Rules for that reason.”
Brogan revealed his older brother Alan is questioning whether to continue his Dublin career. However, he fancies the 32-year-old will carry on for one more season after a groin injury denied him any game time this year. “I’d say if he had won an All-Ireland this year and played in a lot of games he probably would have retired.
“But I’m hoping missing out will give him the inspiration to come back. I’d like to see him go out on his own terms.”
Brogan has also heard rumours of captain Stephen Cluxton retiring, but isn’t reading much into them.
“He’s a peculiar fish at the best of times, he just needs a bit of love every now and again. We’ll give him a bit of attention at the end of the year and put an arm around his shoulder. I’m sure he’ll be back. He’s put massive effort into Dublin over the years and I think he’s loads left.
“He’s the fittest man, he’s top of every sprint and long run so I don’t think there’ll be any issue there. His girlfriend is a massive Dublin fan as well, we’ll probably need to talk to her more than him!”
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