Why Pat Gilroy made Bernard Brogan play wing back as a 'sacrificial lamb' 5 months ago

Why Pat Gilroy made Bernard Brogan play wing back as a 'sacrificial lamb'

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"Pat really ripped up the playbook after that."


Pat Gilroy used Bernard Brogan as a "sacrificial lamb" during Dublin training to make a point to his players about what it means to work for the team.

Back in 2009, Alan and Bernard Brogan were the two star forwards for Dublin, but the younger brother would have been more of a gun slinger, a real shoot-on-sight kind of player.

This inevitably gave him a reputation as the typical forward who only cared about the scoring points, and wouldn't be as interested in the there facets of the game, such as defending.

When Gilroy took over the dublin team in 2009, he wanted to make a point to his players, and Bernard was the perfect person to make an example of.


Bernard Brogan

Speaking on the latest episode of the GAA Hour, Alan Brogan was in studio, and details the method behind Gilroy's tactics.

"Bernard was a bit of a sacrificial lamb, and to be fair to Pat he maybe did speak to Bernard about it first, and in fairness Bernard did have to improve that and he did, he worked really hard for the team.

"But he used Bernard as that sacrificial lamb, saying that if you're not willing to do this, then you won't be playing on the team. He moved him onto the bench, into wing forward and this sort of stuff.

"He made him play wing back in training matches, just being that sacrificial lamb to show that no one is above working hard for the team.

"That was very much the basis of Pat's philosophy, that you work as hard as you can, and then you add the rest of it on.


"It's funny because we were speaking about Armagh and how defensive they were yesterday, but Kieran McGeeney is over seven years at that, and I understand that you get your defensive structure right first but Pat moved his forward play on after 12 months of focusing on defence.

"In his first year in the National League, the six backs would stay back, they weren't allowed to attack, so we would have a solid defence, and that obviously evolved over time, and we worked more on the forward play like having wing backs attack and stuff.

"The whole philosophy was based on having a solid foundation at the back and stopping them from scoring and then we weren't as defensive the following year.


"But in Pat's first year, we had 14 men behind the ball, and especially in league matches, that's all we worked on, there was no talk of forward play, it was just - get that foundation right first.

"I do think that it's evolved over the last 10 or 12 years, but it's still engrained in lad's minds - you get defensive duties right first, then whatever happens after that is a bonus."

It wasn't just the Brogan brothers who had to adjust to the rigorous demands of tackling and tracking back, every single player on the team had to do it, and it wasn't always a popular request.

However, after the scars of previous years, and the desperation to finally get over the line, Brogan reveals that everyone was willing to put the work in.


"At that stage we would have done anything to even get to an All-Ireland final, I had lost four semi-finals, but the real turning point was - Pat came in in '09 and he kind of followed on from what Pillar Caffrey had been doing.

"We were very close under Pillar, lost a couple of semi-finals, and Pat followed on in the vein, playing a similar style of football, and with similar personnel, but after the loss to Kerry in '09 he really ripped up the playbook after that.

"We just went back to like - let's not even talk about forward play, we're just going to get our defensive structure right in 2010, and the backs stayed back with the two midfielders, the half forwards came back, and it was up to the four forwards to get the scores to win us the match.

Bernard Brogan

"Like if you look back, our scoring rate went way down, but what we conceded went way down as well. That formed a base going forward.

"I think things had to change, I had lost four semi-finals and we were involved in great attacking games, but we weren't winning the big games.

"The likes of especially Tyrone, and Kerry were tactically better than us, and we knew we had to improve that."

You can listen to the full discussion with Alan Brogan on the latest GAA Hour episode now.


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