'I’m too long in the tooth to be thinking I have to kick 8 points to be happy'

Sharing the limelight with Dublin’s rising stars, Bernard Brogan says he’s happy to do whatever it takes to get another All-Ireland medal.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

NOBODY IS UNTOUCHABLE forever, especially not in Dublin GAA circles.

So there were no gasps of surprise from the Hill when the board went up after an hour of Sunday’s Leinster football final against Meath: for the third time in as many Championship games, it was Bernard Brogan’s number.

A few short minutes later the party started again. It felt very familiar, an eighth provincial title in nine seasons for the Dubs, but it bore all the hallmarks of a brave new world in many other ways.

“It’s brilliant,” Brogan mused yesterday without a hint of worry or discontent. “For a long time you guys would have asked me can Dublin win an All-Ireland without me playing well or me scoring seven points a game. The lads answered that this year all year.”

By the time he was called ashore and replaced by Dean Rock, Brogan had just one score to his name, a single point from play. While he took a backseat it was the turn of 19-year-old Paul Mannion to lead the way with an impressive 1-4 (1-2 from play) while Ciaran Kilkenny, a year Mannion’s senior, turned in a man of the match performance at centre forward topped by three game-changing points early in the second half.

The final margin of victory was seven, not quite as eye-catching as the 16-point shellackings dished out to Westmeath and Kildare in the provincial preliminaries, but comfortable nonetheless. Once again Dublin’s new-look attack proved that they are much more than a one-man show.

Kilkenny and Mannion celebrate with the Delaney Cup (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

There’s no real talk of a loss of form although, briefly, Brogan acknowledges that he can no longer be certain of his place in the starting 15 and points to an injury-hit league campaign which slowed his momentum coming into the summer.

Does he feel under pressure? He shrugs it off.

“I’’ve been around a long time. I’’ve had good days and bad days and I’’ve always liked the challenge of it so I’’m looking forward to getting back out there and proving myself again.”

He takes the mature view when asked how he is adjusting to this new role at a slight remove from the spotlight.

“I’ve had great days when I’ve scored 10 or 15 points and it is great, it’s great to do your own thing but at the end of the day it is about winning the game. I’m happy to be involved and be out there on the pitch playing ball and obviously I want to be kicking scores but if there are lads in the right position and he is the man to score, I’ve no problem with that.

“I’m too long in the tooth now to be thinking I have to go out and kick eight points in a game for me to be happy, to satisfy my personal thing. It is not about that anymore or never was. It is about the team winning.

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“If we win All-Irelands, I’ll still have that medal. I’ve one All-Ireland and I’d love to get another, it would be unbelievable. Whoever scores on the day, they can come from all over the pitch, the half-back line and midfield. Having that makes us a harder team to defend against whereas if it is just me kicking seven or eight points teams are able to handle it a bit easier.”

Brogan, far left, with Dublin team-mates (l-r) Diarmuid Connolly, Michael Darragh MacAuley and Philly McMahon at the announcement of Warrior Sports official ambassadors (Paul Mohan / Sportsfile)

He adds: “I nearly get more energy now from an assist. I actively say that to myself: ‘If you set up a goal…’ I’d take a lot of energy from that. It’s getting other lads into the game and I am trying to be a leader.

“I’m older now and I want to lead for this team and do the best for the team. It is not about me scoring. I’d prefer a young lad to get a few points on the board and get his confidence up.

“We all want to score and if it is on, I will try to take it but it is all about the team now. It’s about winning the game.

“As Jim always says it can be one point or 10, it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care if it is fancy or not. He just wants to win. That’s all we want from it as well. Whatever way we do that, whatever way we can.”

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Niall Kelly

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