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Covid breach Bernard Brogan says Dessie Farrell ‘fell on his sword’ to protect the Dubs after secret training session

The iconic forward (37) has described the furore as a “serious witch-hunt” and said there were “certain things they didn’t do exactly right”.

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Bernard Brogan

Bernard Brogan

Dublin training session

Dublin training session

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Bernard Brogan

Bernard Brogan has spoken out about the fallout that followed a secret Dublin football training session during lockdown and says manager Dessie Farrell “fell on his sword” for the team.

One of Dublin GAA’s most decorated players, the iconic forward (37) has described the furore as a “serious witch-hunt” and said there were “certain things they didn’t do exactly right”.

“Everyone is training individually, every county, every player, so there was no head-start here,” he said.

“I know they need to be careful about meeting up in groups and they put their hand up on that in fairness and they accepted responsibility and took their punishment. But it’s just about doing things right.

“Everyone’s training. I don’t think they had any major advantage. But they have to play by the rules because there is a real threat out there so, in fairness, they learnt that quick enough.”

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Dublin training session

Dublin training session

Dublin training session

The GAA legend said it was important for team members to adhere to the rules like everyone else. “There was a serious witch-hunt after them which was probably a bit over the top, when you were talking about some of the repercussions,” he said.

"But the rules are there for a reason so you just have to be careful. I don’t think there was any malice in it or anything like that.

“Every county and even club guys are training away, for sanity as well as keeping fit, so I’m sure they’re tipping away at home or on their local pitches. But (it was) a lesson learned for them.”

Photographs taken by the Irish Independent of players and a coach at the Innisfails GAA Club in north Dublin on March 31 sparked a wide-scale inquiry that led to the eventual 12-week ban of manager Dessie Farrell.

He was not present at the training session.

Asked whether he felt the ban was appropriate, Brogan said Farrell had taken the punishment to protect his team, as any good leader should.

“Dessie fell on his sword (for them), in fairness to him. He’s the leader of that organisation. He took responsibility and Jim (Gavin) would always say, he would always take the blame whenever we lost and he would heap praise on the players whenever we won,” he said.

“It’s the role of a leader to take all the blame and not take any of the glory and Dessie is a great leader as well. Dessie won’t have pity for himself; a decision was made.

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“He’s gone ‘hands up’ and he’s taken the brunt of it and protected his team which is what any great leader does.”

Brogan confirmed his retirement from inter-county football in 2019, after 15 years with the Dubs in which he won win seven senior All-Ireland football titles, four All-Stars and the 2010 Footballer of the Year award.

A trained accountant and business graduate, he’s now busy with his corporate wellbeing business ‘PepTalk’ which he set up in 2017 alongside former Twitter human resources executive and ex-athlete Michelle Fogarty.

They said business had flourished given the changing face of workplaces over the past year of the pandemic and they now have almost 30 clients on board.

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Michelle Fogarty

Michelle Fogarty

Michelle Fogarty

The two business partners try to transfer some of the tactics applied in sports to the corporate world when it comes to their firm.

“In sport, we look at the individual and their wellbeing, to make sure they perform on the pitch so that it’s not just about their skills,” said Brogan.

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