Dublin’s recent rich vein of success has been put down by many to the lazy excuses of money, population, playing most of their games in Croke Park etc, etc. The list goes on and on from those outside of the capital, rarely do they reference the fact that Dublin just at this moment in time have the best squad in the country.
But just having a talented group of individuals is not a guarantee of success, particularly if the attitude of those players is not right as they and the team as a whole will be found out when the chips are down at the business end of the season.
Bernard Brogan made his senior inter-county debut 10 years ago and soon established himself as one of the top forwards in the game. He has been an ever present in the Dublin starting line-up for most of those tens years and one would imagine that he was one of the first names on the team sheet for every game.
He wasn’t the only one as his teammate, midfielder Michael Darragh Macauley was another to establish himself as a first choice starting 15 player season after season.
Brogan recently spoke about how himself and Macauley reacted and handled being dropped to the bench for last years All Ireland Final replay.
Sport is a results based business even in the amateur world of Gaelic Games and there is no room for sentimentality when it comes to picking teams as both players found out.
Both Brogan and Macauley were obviously upset at not starting in the All Ireland Final and when you add in player egos the two former Player Of The Year winners could have reacted badly to the news sulked and threw the toys out of the pram, but there is no ‘I’ in team and the two players reactions certainly showed that in the Dublin camp it’s all about the team and not the individual.
“Jim pulled me aside before the All-Ireland final and said, ‘Yourself and Michael Darragh are starting from the bench. It’s something different we want to do for this game. We want to do something different.’
Brogan pulled Macauley aside just before the team announcement and although both were upset they agreed to add a positivity to the group. He told Macauley, stand up high and look every player straight in the eye when they looked at you.
“It’s going to be named now in five minutes, just step up high. When they look at you’ … because we would be two senior members of the group… so we just said show no sign of weakness. It was just something I wanted to do.”
“Did it do anything for the team? Maybe not. But I thought for me, it gave me energy.”
Whether it did anything for the team or not, it showed great maturity from both players, but not just that, it showed everything you needed to know about this special group of players who play for each other, play as a team and put individuality aside for the good of the group.
There are no superstars who think they are bigger than the team, no complaining to the media, no grumbling in the dressing room, no players trying to influence team selections and no letters to the county board looking to oust the management. As it should be the players play and the Manager manages, there is a lesson there for some other counties.