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dubs rebuild Alan Brogan on Stephen Cluxton’s exit and what comes next for the Dubs

Former Dubs star feels Dessie Farrell should be given space to rebuild a team with his own stamp on it

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Dubs football legend Alan Brogan and All-Ireland-winning Limerick hurling captain Declan Hannon pictured at The Woodlands Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick at the launch of their new sock gift boxes for SicSock.com

Dubs football legend Alan Brogan and All-Ireland-winning Limerick hurling captain Declan Hannon pictured at The Woodlands Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick at the launch of their new sock gift boxes for SicSock.com

Dubs football legend Alan Brogan and All-Ireland-winning Limerick hurling captain Declan Hannon pictured at The Woodlands Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick at the launch of their new sock gift boxes for SicSock.com

When Alan Brogan retired after the 2015 All-Ireland final, his wife Lydia got possession of the match ball, had it signed by all members of the squad and at the subsequent medal presentation his captain Stephen Cluxton presented to him on stage as a commemorative token of a great career.

Brogan thinks of that moment and gesture now in the context of Cluxton’s own departure earlier this year under a cloud of uncertainty.

For sure, the game’s greatest ever goalkeeper did not get the send-off he deserved and wouldn’t have wanted it as Brogan pointed out – but still, a career that smashed so many records and reached such levels merited fanfare and an opportunity for those who played with him and followed his lead as captain to pay tribute in a proper way.

“From my point of view, the two of us on the stage (in 2015) was a nice touch. Stephen might not appreciate something like that now but maybe in time he would,” said Brogan, adding a note of uncertainty as to whether it was really the end for a man he shared a Dublin dressing-room with for 14 years.

“It’s a bit sad the way it has ended, if it has ended,” he added. “Everyone knows Stephen is very much his own man. The extent of my relationship with him is more meeting up for our few pints at Christmas and a few texts and I wouldn’t even go there with him about what his intention is. That’s up to himself.

“But if that’s the way it ends, having played with him and being a friend of his, it’s probably a bit sad. I’m sure for Dessie (Farrell), whatever the reason, it’s not ideal as well.

“He wouldn’t want it but it would have been nice for the lads to give him the send-off he deserves, same for fans, not just Dublin but all round the country.

“Time moves on. people say Dublin will never survive without Stephen Cluxton. But they will survive, though he will be hard replaced.

“To be fair to Evan Comerford, he has had that lurking over him in the background. If Stephen is finished and there is a line drawn in the sand it will help him.

“Having played with him and being a friend of his, it’s a little bit sad to see it end that way.”

Brogan, who experienced some hard defeats in the first half of his career himself before helping Dublin to three All-Ireland titles, sees breathing space for manager Farrell if he chooses to rebuild the team without the necessity of having to win an All-Ireland title in 2022.

“Dublin fans have been so lucky over the last number of years, that if there are a few years where there has to be a rebuild. I think that’s okay with people. Dessie has given so much as a player and a manager of both the minors and U-21s and now senior, if Dublin don’t win an All-Ireland next year unless something goes seriously wrong – I can’t see Dessie being under pressure if he wants to hang in there. There is a case to get some of the younger guys through.

“Even Seán Bugler, who had a very good first year but went back last year, I’d expect the likes of him to step up, players like the Basquels (Colm and Ryan) maybe to step up to see really can they make that breakthrough,” said Brogan. “The likes of Kevin Mac (McManamon) is still hanging in there but over the next year or two four or five really experienced guys around the dressing-room – maybe not on the field – will start to fall off. It’s hard to replace those guys. Like any team, things are cyclical so you expect a down period after a big up period. Dessie won’t want that, he’ll want to win an All-Ireland next year but I don’t think there is a huge amount of pressure.”

Brogan sees his former colleague now in a position as manager to put his own identity on the team, not something he could have done in either of the previous two years to any great extent.

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“Dessie now an opportunity to really put his own stamp on it. If you are looking at it objectively, he took over Jim Gavin’s Dublin team and he had to tread very softly. It was very difficult to make changes and why make any wholesale changes. Now he has that opportunity to make a few changes as he sees fit.”

Brogan gets the sense that losing an All-Ireland semi-final to Mayo in August, their first defeat in seven years, will bring renewal as articulated by Brian Fenton last week.

“Last season (defeat to Mayo) is maybe no harm over the course of those careers to experience lows, same as we did in the noughties. It worked out well for me in the end so it is very difficult for me to have any bad memories.

“You might not think but mentally you can become exhausted by it and maybe mentally guys just needed that loss to reassess and as Brian Fenton said come back stronger again next year.

“Brian had one of his quieter years last year by his own standards so it was interesting to hear him talking last week about getting his hunger back and having a few months off and being ready to go next year. There was talk he might be travelling so it’s good. For Dublin to lose him, coming off the back of a loss into a new season, would have been huge. very difficult to replace.”

Brogan feels Tyrone got a deserved All-Ireland in September but would have relished a shot at Dublin along the way, something they’ll have on their minds in 2022.

“This Tyrone team will take huge confidence out of winning an All-Ireland and would love a crack at this Dublin team next year. You can’t take that way from them but for this team to really cement themselves and for the players they want to beat that Dublin team in the championship.”

Alan Brogan is an ambassador of SicSock, a Limerick-based company selling a range of sports and leisure socks

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