Brian Howard's All-Ireland final stats were absolutely ridiculous 1 month ago

Brian Howard's All-Ireland final stats were absolutely ridiculous

Earlier on in the year, when he was left out of League games and even some big championship games, everyone was wondering about Brian Howard.

He won two All-Stars in his first two years on the Dublin panel but suddenly, despite being in the peak of his powers, it appeared that his status as a key player had slipped.


He played a grand total of 23 minutes for Dublin in their entire League campaign, having come on in round five and six against Derry and Meath respectively. But he didn't get on in the last round against Louth, nor did he appear in the final against Derry.

What's the story?

Well, it was the same story in his early championship days, coming on against Laois in the first round before spending the enitre Leinster semi-final against Kildare on the bench.

Stop. Start.


As we now know, the reason for Howard's exodus was that he had taken an 18-week holiday to southeast Asia at the end of last year, which meant he only returned to Dublin in late February.

He left with the blessing of Dessie Farrell but sitting on the bench that day against Kildare, he'd have been forgiven for feeling a little uneasy.

Howard last week explained that the get-away was something he 'always wanted to do,' while he made it his business to come back fit and up to date as regards tactics. Still though, nothing was guaranteed.


"I had a conversation with Dessie," he said, "and said if there was a risk of not being able to get back in the squad then I wouldn’t go, I would have sacrificed the travelling," he said.

"I have played with Dublin since development squads at under-13, so I haven’t had an opportunity to go away and it was something I had always wanted to do.

“I thought it was the right time, it was a huge risk to take but I enjoyed it, the hunger never left."

As it turned out, the risk paid off.


Howard got his break in the Leinster final, playing the full game against Louth and he has started every game since. Now, despite being left out of The Sunday Game team of the year, he's right there in the conversation for a third All-Star.

"The harshest omission is Brian Howard, he goes to wherever Dublin need him, in midfield or defence," said Sean Cavanagh on The Sunday Game.

"Brian Howard will make the All-Star team," added Tomás Ó Sé.

Speaking on Monday's GAA Hour, Marc Ó Sé hailed Howards' contribution in the final.

30 July 2023; Brian Howard of Dublin during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

"The kick-outs Cluxton got to Howard were incredible," said Ó Sé on The GAA Hour.

"Howard was hugely influential in that game.

"I think Dublin had watched the Derry game, and they'd seen how effective Odhran Lynch was going up the field. Dublin knew Cluxton was never going to do that, but if they had a go-t0-guy in the full back line, where they could start their attacks, it was him.

"And I thought Kerry should have pushed up more, and they didn't. Because Howard had such a huge influence."

The stats certainly back up that opinion, as a brilliant video from the GAA performance podcast shows.

Howard is seen as something of a quarterback on the Dublin team and he played this role to perfection on Sunday. Skipping from the left wing to the right wing, or else ghosting down the middle, the Raheny man was an ever-willing option for Cluxton from kick-outs and he won eight of them, equating to 35% of all Dublin kick-outs.

To go along with this, he was on the ball an amazing 35 times, despite being subbed in the 63rd minute of the game. He also made a goal-line block from Paul Geaney, won a mark and kicked a point.

Talk about a tour-de-force.

From southeast Asia to here, it's not been a bad year.

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The GAA Hour: Marc Ó Sé chats Dublin vs. Kerry and shares some Páidí Ó Sé classics