Brogan believes winter football will suit Galway and Monaghan
By John Harrington
The biggest variable in the 2020 All-Ireland SFC could well be the fact that it takes place in winter rather than summer.
Will playing on heavier pitches and in windier and wetter conditions suit some teams better than others?
Will it level the playing field somewhat for teams trying to prevent Dublin winning a sixth All-Ireland Championship in a row?
Recently retired Dublin footballer, Bernard Brogan, believes it will definitely be a factor.
And when he evaluates Dublin's most likely challengers, he reckons winter football could particularly suit Galway and Monaghan.
“Yeah, teams like Monaghan, Galway that are very strong physically. They have some silky forwards that can get scores, the likes of McManus in winter football, none better. Damien Comer who has the power to create his own scores.
“There are teams like that who I think this ground will suit. Mayo are a dogged enough team in these situations. You could obviously name all of the main teams that are in and around National League Finals.
“I think it is a great leveller.
“Taking on Donegal on the soft ground, they'll let you know all about it. Tyrone as well. It's going to be a really interesting one.
“I'm not sure who is the best suited to it, but I'd say the likes of Monaghan and Galway are two teams in my head that would probably be looking forward to going about their business in a positive way.”
Winter football might level the playing field somewhat, but Brogan still believes that Dublin will be able to cope with the conditions as well if not better than most other teams.
In recent years their style has evolved to a more possession-based game, which could be just what’s needed when the sod is wet and the ball is slippy.
“The team are focused on retaining the ball and making sure that we play the game on our terms over the last number of years and that’ll definitely stand to them in some way,” says Brogan.
“We have some great ball-carriers, we’ve got the the likes of Howard, Kilkenny, Fenton, James McCarthy, lads around the middle, Scully, lads who are very comfortable on the ball and that are very controlled.
“You need that bit of bite to break through the lines as well so you need the mix of both but every team is going to have the pros and cons.
“I definitely think teams will be more confident coming against this Dublin team but the team is still the same 19 lads that were there, that played in the All-Ireland final last year, played the guts of 60 minutes of every game.
“I think the team is still there and they’re working hard, they’ll trying to innovate, coming up with new ways of playing but yeah, they’ll be conscious of the threat and always have been but I think they’ll be going into every game like they always do and trying to just make sure they get that out of the way.
“They won’t be thinking about six-in-a-rows or anything like that. We never really thought like that. They’re smart footballers, Dessie’s a very smart, very intelligent coach. They’ll know the threat.
“They’ll be working on how to mitigate that threat but yeah, there’s definite positives. Dublin and some certain players, there’s no getting away from it, a sunny day in Croke Park, the hard ground, they’re a tough team to play against because of some of the athletes that Dublin have.
“It’s a different type of football that’s going to be played this winter. Dublin have plenty of players who can play that game so they won't be afraid of anything, but they'll be conscious of the threat and there is a real threat there.”
This Championship season SuperValu is calling on GAA fans across the country to ‘Support Where You’re From’ by showing their incredible county passion and pride from the safety of their homes and communities. At today’s launch with ambassadors David Clifford, Peter Keane, Cian O’Sullivan, Damien Comer, Ryan McHugh and Bernard Brogan, SuperValu announced that they are on the hunt to find Ireland’s most devoted and vocal superfans to give them an opportunity to show the country what their county team means to them. Check out www.facebook.com/SuperValuIreland for more information on how you become one of ‘SuperValu’s Superfans’.