AS A METRIC to sum up the strength of this all-conquering Dublin squad, it was worth not just considering those on the pitch on Sunday but those not listed on the match programme.
Bernard Brogan is one of the most decorated players at Dublin’s disposal. Multiple Leinster and All-Ireland accolades, the best player in the country in 2010, a serial All-Star winner and a forward who has delivered vital scores on the biggest days for his county.
His remarkable recovery from a torn cruciate this summer saw him back fighting for a squad place but when Jim Gavin and his management sat down to figure out their 26-man squad to face Tyrone on All-Ireland final Sunday, Brogan did not make the cut.
“We don’t do sentiment,” stated selector Declan Darcy, when reflecting on the selection decision.
“That does not wash with us. But we do acknowledge that he is a phenomenal player.
“We did acknowledge the massive effort he made to come back. He broke all the records to get to where he was. He was disappointed but at the same time we had to pick the 26 we felt were going to do the best for the team.
“Unfortunately Bernard did not fit into that. He was not that far off it, he was just another couple of weeks (away).
Bernard Brogan after Sunday’s gam.e
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
“You still have to be very respectful of players like Bernard and what he has given to the county and the jersey and you can’t ignore that but also the value he brings to the dressing room can’t be underestimated.
“Just to see, even for ourselves, him there and his input was huge yesterday. At the end of the day we just want to get across the line and he was fantastic.”
Despite his peripheral role in the decider, Darcy believes it will be difficult for a long-serving stalwart like Brogan to depart this setup.
“I wouldn’t underestimate the enjoyment of the group – they excel at what they’re doing and it would be very hard to step away from the group. I think it would be very challenging for any player to step away.
“There is such camaraderie within the group, it’s unbelievable, they really enjoy what they do. And I think it would be very difficult for anyone to step away, especially in the context of what they are likely to be chasing next year.”
Jack McCaffrey, the man-of-the-match in Sunday’s showdown, can relate to Brogan’s injury struggles after undergoing a similar recovery process when he tore his cruciate in the 2017 decider.
Jack McCaffrey celebrates Dublin’s victory.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
He hailed Brogan’s impact in the Dublin setup this summer.
“He made it in fairness to him, he got back. He just ran out of time unfortunately. If the All-Ireland final had been on the weekend it traditionally is he would have had another two weeks of football under him and he could have been in the mix.
“But I was chatting to Bernard yesterday and for me, Bernard Brogan made the transition from an excellent Dublin footballer to a Dublin legend over the last season because he was given the easy out.
“A man who has won absolutely everything, such a silky footballer, such a once in a generation player and to have an injury happen at his age and the point that he’s at in his life, (with) children and his business and everything, no one would have begrudged him if he said, ‘I’m off’.
“Over the last week maybe he realised that he’d just run out of grass but he was a selfless bloke, he was chatting to the younger lads.
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“He’s the kind of man that he doesn’t talk often when we have meetings but when he talks everybody listens because it’s something that’s worth saying. I have massive respect for him already but I absolutely love that man now and I cannot put into words how somebody who just didn’t have to go the extra yard and he’s set such a standard now for the rest of us to live up to.”
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