September 16, 1994
Bernard Brogan - A vital cog in the great Dublin team of the '70's
And he is still playing!
Imagine if you will, the sound of Michael O'Hehir, the Picasso of commentating, his voice wavering with emotions and his patter littered with bizarre sayings. Think back to 1977 and the All-Ireland semi final between old rivals. Kerry and Dublin, with the Metropolitans fashioning a super goal which proved instrumental in giving them victory. "Dublin are moving the ball well out of defence now, Tony Hanhoe, on the forty-toe to hand. He passes it out to Bernard Brogan. Brogan is moving now and this looks dangerous for Kerry. It's a goal, a goal, a great goal. Bernard Brogan with an unstoppable shot to the back of the Kerry net. They'll be celebrating on the Navan Road tonight!".
That goal has been viewed by millions of people and it gets better with every showing. The overlapping midfielder Bernard Brogan, once again, showed how invaluable he was to that great Dublin side of the seventies. It was a golden era for the Royal Blues with All-Ireland appearances from 1974 to 1979 inclusive and victories in '74, '76 and '77. "It's the pinnacle of your career to win an All-Ireland", relates the St. Oliver Plunketts clubman. It's what you would have dreamed of when you were young. My young lads would love to win an All-Ireland for Dublin. There's not much more to do. It was a fantastic experience.
The athletic midfielder first joined the Dublin panel in September 1973 and was a regular until 1981". I played a few challenge matches and then became a regular in the League. In the '74 Championship, I twisted my knee against Offaly and had to have an operation to remove the cartilage which caused me to miss the All-Ireland that year". In his time wearing the county colours, Bernard forged a very strong partnership with the blond colossus Brian Mullins in the middle of the field. "Myself and Brian complimented each other well. He was very big and very strong while I was fast and more mobile". The ideal midfield pairing.
Bernard is well aware that he was fortunate to have been a member of such a great side. "Kevin Heffernan deserves high praise for this. Of course, you can't have one without the other - a great team with a great manager and vice versa. Kevin must be credited with coming along, putting the group together and bringing the best out of them. He developed a team which for seven or eight years was capable of beating everybody. If that Kerry side wasn't around we might have won more but I don't think they were much better than us".
The brother of present day Dublin selector Jim Brogan names Kit Kerins as the greatest influence on his career. "Kit had a great love of the game and a great ability to coerce people to play. Brother Carr at St. Declan's Secondary School was also an influence. We did a lot of training in St. Declan's which was a great grounding". Surprisingly enough, Brogan didn't play Minor or Under 21 football for Dublin, but he did line out for the county's Minor hurlers! He gave up that code when his career in the big ball game took an upswing. But now that all county appearances are behind him, Bernard, who is 40, lines out at Junior level in hurling and football for St. Oliver Plunketts.
We are a small parish club based on the Navan Road, where my parents still live", says the man now domiciled in Castleknock. "We are in Division One of the hurling League and Division Two of the football. While we may not be strong enough for the Championship at the moment, the club does have a good underage structure in place with the mentors to show them the ropes. My three sons Alan (12), Bernard (10) and Paul (8) are benefiting from this at the moment, as are two of my nephews James and Joseph".
Bernard won an Intermediate Football Championship medal with Plunkett's in 1975 and a hurling equivalent in 1987. He managed the senior football team in 1991 but found that it was difficult to be aloof from the players while he was still out himself. "I might get involved at juvenile level next year". The former All-Star says that "it was a good honour to receive that award in 1979 as people are selecting you as being one of the best players around. The problem with the All-Stars though is that the guys who are seen most create the biggest impression and have the highest profile, thus you get six or seven or eight guys who play in an All-Ireland and are given an All-Star. They are not necessarily the best footballers. That's not to downgrade the awards. I was honoured to get an All-Star and I would have liked to have got more", admit this affable personality.
Representation at Railway Cup level was also achieved by the former Dublin star. "I played a few times for Leinster although we never won. You'd go to training sessions and there might be 10 or 12 at them - there was little interest Television has destroyed it as a spectacle". Gaelic games are much more accessible now and people get to see them so often that they don't bother going to watch ones that are televised. I would give the Railway Cup a much higher profile than it has at the moment. The G.A.A. should be putting more money into marketing the actual game than they are now because it is struggling in the competition with soccer. Look at all the soccer magazines that the youngsters can get and there are only a few gaelic games ones. The G.A.A. should subsidise magazines to concentrate on hurling and football. Instead they are doling money into a new Cusack Stand which is all well and good but there won't be much point of that if in 20 years time the kids of today won't be there to play".
Bernard owes a great debt to his wife Maria, a native of Kerry "which made for good fun. In 1975 I went down to Kerry to work for a year and I met Maria there. We got married in 1979. She has put up with all the hardship and given me great support over the years. She'll be facing it fresh again now with the young lads beginning to play". Incidentally, in his time in Kerry, Bernard became very friendly with Jimmy Deeihan and trained regularly with him.
When asked who his most difficult opponents were the cousin of former Mayo and Donegal player Padraig Brogan replied that "it's very difficult to name just one or two as I have faced so many good players. Having said that I always admired Kevin Kilmurray, who won All-Ireland medals with Offaly in 1971 and 1972. John Costello (Laois) was very big and very difficult to play on. The Kerry guys were always very mobile. They didn't mark you, they were always moving around and were very difficult to pin down".
Employed by Microsoft, the largest software company in the world, for the last six years, Bernard is now Director of Supplier Management and Quality. In his time at the Microsoft European Operations Centre in Dublin, Bernard has seen a lot of changes both internally and externally. "The company has grown significantly over that period. Microsoft suppliers have always compared with the best in the world and now such is the quality of the Irish supply base that it has encourage Microsoft to place more activities in the country".
Turning to the subject of the All-Ireland final, Bernard, who is well qualified to comment with his brother a selector, argues the Dublin are an improved outfit. "I think they are functioning much better as a unit. Alright, Charlie may be getting the bulk of the scores but to be fair he has to be given the ball to score, it has to come up the field. Also people have to be fouled for Charlie to point the frees. You need a good goalie, jumpers in the middle of the field and a good freetaker to make a team. Kerry had freetakers, so did Dublin and so did Meath with Brian Stafford. Larry Tompkins made Cork, he was such an excellent freetaker".
This G.A.A. stalwart opines that Dublin went into the Kildare game "with a lot of trepidation after a bad League. Having gotten the draw would have given them a lot of confidence and Kildare were never going to beat them after that. Down have had a hard campaign and while I wouldn't be confident, I am not pessimistic either. It'll be close but I think Dublin can win". Imagine once again Michael O'Hehir, as if he were commentating the 1994 All-Ireland Final. "And John O'Leary lifts the Sam Maguire to a tremendous roar. The glory days are back!". That's the fervent hope of all Metropolitan gaels.
Written by the Hogan Stand Magazine
16th Sept 1994
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