SportGAA

Bernard Brogan: 'I still have more to give to Dublin football'

GAABy Daragh Keany
Bernard Brogan during a Sky Sports Academy GAA Masterclass at Abbotstown
Bernard Brogan during a Sky Sports Academy GAA Masterclass at Abbotstown

The four-time All-Ireland winner believes he is still good enough to make an impact at inter-county level.

The Sunday World Magazine+ caught up with the football star as he shared his skills with schoolkids in the pouring rain at a GAA masterclass.

"It was pretty amazing," Brogan proclaimed of the training session. "The lads came all the way down from Donegal and brought the rain with them.

"They brought a few silky skills with them too. I was well impressed. The future of Donegal football seems to be in safe hands."

The excited kids from Crana College made the trip down to the GAA National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin 15, as part of Sky Academy's new initiative which offers school students access to top sporting stars and experts.

"I would have bitten my right arm off to have this kind of access when I was in school," says Bernard.

"My old man was a footballer so I met a few of the players through the years but to have training with them and get use of facilities like this would have been just incredible.

"Sky is bringing entire schools here for the chance to learn from a team of experts. The money they are putting into it as part of their Sky Academy is amazing.

"Honestly, if you are teacher in a secondary school, register your interest right away. There are still loads of things you can get for your school.

"I remember the day that Jason Sherlock brought Sam Maguire into my school, St Declan's. It was like the best day of my life at the time. It was unreal. I promised myself I would do that down the line. I've been lucky enough to be able to do it a few times since 2011," he says with a smile.

So does the four-time All-Ireland winner find coaching easy?

"I love that side of the game," he says. "I try and help out in Plunketts GAA when I can, although with my wedding and work commitments taking over in recent months I haven't had a chance.

"But I do think it is something I'd consider doing properly down the line. I might even think about punditry. I love the sport so much that there's no way I am going to walk away completely from the game when I eventually retire."

The R-word has followed Bernard for the last 12 months after he struggled to have the prolific impact he'd become famous for in the first half of his career. Up until the end of last season's championship, Bernard was the first name on the team sheet but now he finds himself battling for a spot.

"I'm probably one of the few Dubs who doesn't want all that competition for places in the forward line," he laughs.

"I've watched from the inside as the game has grown over the last few years and the amount of young lads coming through challenging for positions is frightening.

"I know every Dubs fan loves the options we have but if I'm being honest I'd prefer a few less options," he says with a huge smile.

The 32-year-old is not ready to quit yet though.

"I still think I have something to give. I know I do.

"I took a few weeks off to get married and have a honeymoon so I am not in the reckoning at the moment. But that doesn't rule me out of the championship.

"It's not easy sitting in the stands watching the lads play. I want to be out there with them."

Bernard clocked his first minutes of the campaign on Saturday in a brief substitute appearance as Dublin drew with Kerry in Tralee, seeing the Boys in Blue equal a Kingdom record as they went 34 matches unbeaten across league and championship fixtures.

Early last year, Bernard approached the Dublin bosses and told them he was hoping to take a month off to get married. He claims it was warmly received, if not encouraged.

"Jim (Gavin) is brilliant. Sometimes he places the Dubs team as the fourth priority in a player's life. He knows how important it is to have the right balance."

So was the newlywed able to let loose on his honeymoon in Africa?

"Ha. I was able to have a few drinks if that is what you are asking? And myself and Kiera ate well on the trip.

"But I also found myself in the gym every few days," he reveals, laughing.

"It's harder now. I'm getting older and it makes it harder to remain at the top level.

"That 'top level' is also higher than it was when I started. You can see how bulked up the players are. Especially from the other counties - it's not just a Dublin thing."

Speaking of other counties, Magazine+ was interested to know how he is received around the country?

"Believe it or not, I feel the love a lot more in other counties than I do in Dublin.

"Actually, that is only true from the early days when we weren't winning. Since 2011 it has been nothing but positive from Dubs fans. We have had a great run of it so there is no need to slag us off in Dublin.

"I get friendly banter from fans of other counties. And every time I am down in Kerry they are killed telling me how I am only doing what I am doing because my mum is from there."