I spoke to one of Dublin GAA’s star men for the Dublin Gazette, on how he spends his off season:
Bernard Brogan could be forgiven for taking some down time: he recently starred in a team that took home their third All Ireland title in five years, finding himself amongst the nominees for ‘Player of the Year 2015’ based on his astounding 6-21 in the Championship. But Brogan certainly isn’t using gaelic football’s offseason as a time to unwind.
Alongside his day job with Legacy Consulting, the Dublin forward is heavily involved with mental health charity Aware, and will be taking part in the Petermarkathon from October 23 to 26. The Beat the Blues program specifically targets resilience and awareness amongst young people. Alongside cake sales and a Dolly Parton Day, Brogan will be involved in jersey days and a cycle-athon.
“I do a lot of work with Aware,” he tells us. “We get asked to do a lot of charity work as footballers, and I try and do as much as I can. I took a conscious decision a couple of years ago to pick a charity that resonated with me and try to give real value, rather than just jumping into a picture and that. To try and get in there and help them on a real level.”
Off season, it seems, is the time for another kind of busy. “We’ve also been going around a lot of schools with Sam” he tells GazetteSport. “Sam brings an aura travelling around, so it’s been a special few weeks. It’s been a challenge alongside running my own business. It’s more or less a full time job over three or four months. I still remember when Sam was bought into me in 1995, in primary school. Those memories stay with you forever, and we’re very conscious of that. I never thought I’d be the next one bringing it around, as I was only a nipper back then. It was a long time waiting for Dubs, but that makes it so much more special.”
We asked Brogan to reflect on the county football’s ‘issues of the day’, and found him pragmatic. “We don’t feel sorry for Mayo, and I don’t think they’d want us to,” he argues of Dublin’s perennial nearly-men rivals. “The way they’ve changed their manager shows they feel they can add more. A minute longer and they might have pipped us in that semi.”
As for the talk of moving Dublin out of Croke Park, Brogan’s open to the concept, emphasizing control being outside of the team’s hands:
“I’ve never actually played a game outside Croke Park in the Championship. We play league away games and with our clubs. The fans love a trip. I was on the bench last time Dublin played outside Croke Park in the Championship, in Longford, and the atmosphere was electric. We’re players, though, and we’ll play wherever we’re put. It’s a commercial thing I presume.”
Any potential split for Dublin is given shorter shrift, with Brogan arguing “A bit of success in Dublin is always talked up a bit. If we win ten in a row, we’ll listen to the argument.”
Brogan is on record as having surprised even himself with the quality of his Dublin performances this year. Vital points and a glut of goals have seen him up for individual awards again, but he’s quick and charitable in passing credit to his teammates.
“Personal awards are always nice,” he admits. “I won back in 2010, and we didn’t win the All Ireland that year, so it was a slightly lonely experience. You’d definitely take Sam over it, but it’s a great honour. It’s great to have Jack McCaffery and Philly McMahon alongside me. Jack’s phenomenal, he’s really bought a new energy and power to our game. Philly as well. They do all the work, I just have to be on the end of it, you know?”
As for next year? “In early January we’ll get the boys back in together and work out how we go again and build on this year. There are a lot of young lads. Dublin under age has been quite successful the last few years, so we’re expecting a few new faces, as well as Eric Lowndes and Cormac Costello pushing on. We need the competition. We still have great motivation as a team. And great expectations. ”
As published in the Dublin Gazette, October 2015