"Those two lads wouldn't stand back from anything" - Brogan hails Ballymun duo's influence 4 months ago

"Those two lads wouldn't stand back from anything" - Brogan hails Ballymun duo's influence

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Alan Brogan says that James McCarthy and John Small are two of the quiet leaders in the Dublin dressing room.


The Ballymun duo both played stand-out roles in Dublin's destruction of Mayo in Sunday's All-Ireland quarter final and Brogan has hailed their influence on the panel.

At 33 and 30 respectively, McCarthy and Small are veterans at this stage but despite all the medals they've won and battle-scars they wear, their will-to-win hasn't yet been sated.

Speaking from experience on this week's GAA Hour Show, Brogan says that Small and McCarthy have always trained like they play. With bite and aggression.

"It would depend on the context of the training match or drill, but whenever it got into the trenches in training, those two lads definitely wouldn't stand back from anything," says Brogan.


"I think the likes of James and John Small bring that and Con too, in a different way. He's a bit calmer but he's never pushed around, and if a question is asked of him physically, he'll respond in his own composed way."

Captains James McCarthy and Paddy Durcan shake hands before throw-in, along with referee David Gough.

The Dublin captain is renowned as one of the greatest footballers of the last decade and Brogan says that, from when he came into the panel in 2010, he has always had an insatiable desire. To the extent that, according to Brogan, last year's semi-final defeat to Kerry would have scarred him.

"He was probably three stone lighter then than what he is now, he's put a bit of bulk on, and he was probably a different footballer.


"But he's always had that aggression," says Brogan, "I know he gets personally hurt by criticism, he'll never admit it, but he gets personally hurt by criticism of Dublin or of him.

"Last year's defeat to Kerry would have hurt him so much so you could see how fired up he was yesterday. In fairness, Fenton was the same too.

"He's such a calming influence but I saw him last night, you could see him pumping the fists and stuff. I hadn't seen that stuff from him before.

"James gets the bit between the teeth and the way he plays is inspiring for the lads around him. He's a quiet enough character around the dressing rooms, he wouldn't be shouting and roaring but he typifies everything that's good about this Dublin team."


On the same note, Brogan praised Mayo's Cillian O'Connor and says that he's cut from a similar cloth to McCarthy and Small.

"And I would imagine Cillian O'Connor is the same. He's driving the standard in Mayo training. And you need that to prepare for these big challenges."

29 January 2022; John Small of Dublin following the Allianz Football League Division 1 match between Dublin and Armagh at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"I could see Fenton pointing at Cillian O'Connor in the second half. But to be fair to Cillian, he's the same sort of player. He wants to get involved in everything, and he's in the latter stages of his career. But him coming in like that, that's what you want from your team.


"If there's a criticism of some of the Mayo forwards now, they maybe don't have that same bite that a Cillian O'Connor would have - he's involved in everything, but he's still performing.

"He doesn't take a backward step from anything, and that's an admirable trait. Ryan O'Donoghue and Tommy Conroy have the talent but they're yet to show that same bite."

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