A 12 year old Alan Brogan witnessed Dublin win the 1995 All Ireland Final as a young spectator. Little did he know it would be his last from that angle. That changes again this Sunday as the Legend of Dublin football will return to Croke Park and watch his beloved team mates attempt to retain the Sam Maguire for another year.
What is equally more unusual is Alan probably never imagined after that 1995 win, the next time Dublin would reach an All Ireland Final, let alone win won, he would be standing on the Croke Park surface holding Sam aloft, and not standing in applause as a supporter.
Seven years after Dublin beat Tyrone by a solitary point, lifting the dust that had gathered on the county’s footballers for so many years, Alan Brogan made his senior debut against Wexford and despite Dublin football being in the middle of yet another baron spell, Brogan flourished and became one of Dublin’s greatest discoveries.
To end his career being a part of three All Ireland successes with Dublin, was no more a reward than Alan deserved for his unwavering service to the blue and navy for so many years. And the contrasting image of Alan Brogan in tears after Dublin’s defeat to Donegal in 2014, to one of him on Kevin McManamon’s shoulders one year later with Sam firmly in his grasp only further emphasizes the commitment this man had to his craft, through the rough and the smooth.
Not dissimilar to his own childhood, Alan Brogan will make the trip up Jones’ Road this Sunday with his son Jamie, to cheer on Uncle Bernard and the rest of the boys in blue. And considering he spent most of his life playing for Dublin, you’d have to wonder what the Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh master is feeling ahead of this huge fixture. This Dublin team could be looking at back to back championship success come Sunday evening.
“Once the decision is made, you have to live with the decision.” Alan told the42.ie earlier this week.
“I always knew that the likelihood was that Dublin would be back here again next year.”
“When I was weighing up the decision to retire that was on the other side – if you stayed on there was a chance of back-to-back All-Ireland’s. That’s what was sacrificed.”
It’s no surprise that when Alan made the choice to close the book on his inter county career, there was a long line of media suitors just waiting to hand him an opportunity at punditry. Having spent the guts of 13 years playing the sport, there’s no doubting his credentials and expertise.
With his family in mind, Brogan eventually decided to turn down TV and other opportunities, and is now writing a hugely popular weekly GAA column for the Herald and Sunday Independent. His desire to enjoy the game as opposed to constantly critiquing it means he gets to share these experience with his young boy as a fan.
“I wanted to be able to go to matches with my son Jamie and enjoy that side of things, rather than going to the matches and always be working at them.” he admitted
“I spoke to some of the guys about doing TV this year and I just don’t think I would have had the time to be able to fit it all in.”
One regret of any former player becoming a pundit, in whatever form, is the detachment from former friends when it comes to the big occasions. Jim Gavin will have firmly shut the door from the media so his panel can correctly prepare for this weekend’s task.
That being said, we get the privilege of hearing Alan’s thoughts on this year’s All Ireland Final and his opinions on Dublin’s opponents. And Mayo, according to Alan are “the one team” that have consistently caused Dublin trouble over the years.
“Some of their players are starting to come good again.” he explains.
“Cillian O’Connor started, showed a bit of form in that match, Aidan O’Shea is playing well. Andy Moran is having one of his best years as far back as I can remember.”
“They need to get guys one-on-one if they want to have a chance of winning it.”
And with all the talk of opponents targeting Stephen Cluxton and his kick outs, the Plunkett’s man has another opinion on where the game could won or lost.
“One of the things playing against Dublin, it’s important to push up on Cian O’Sullivan to occupy him. If you let him occupy that space in front of the full-back, it’s going to be difficult to break Dublin down.”
“I think Dublin will win, but they’ll have to grind them down and the game won’t be won until like it was last year in the last few minutes. I think it will go right to the wire.”