"I knew I didn't have the pace or strength, it was just get it and try kick it left or right" 5 months ago

"I knew I didn't have the pace or strength, it was just get it and try kick it left or right"

At the age of ten, your standard youngster might be learning how to kick for a score.

Or practicing how to solo the ball properly, at a stretch maybe. For a young Declan Browne, it was a different game.

It's hardly any surprise that Browne, one of the most feared and respected forwards of his generation, was a step ahead from a young age but the fact that he'd go through a training session aged 10/11, without letting himself kick the ball off his stronger right foot. goes to show a rare level of single-mindedness and drive.

"There was times in training I wouldn't do anything only kick off my left no matter how bad it was," he says on his GAA Hour tribute show, "from the age of 10, 11, 12."

Is it any wonder the Moyle Rovers club man became such a talent?

Having won a Munster minor medal in his first year up, whispers soon spread about his gifts and it wasn't long before he was the danger-man on the Tipperary senior team.

Unfortunately for Browne, the Premier county come from the same province as Kerry and in a system where it's either Kerry or another, early exits became a theme. In fact Browne's Tipperary drew Kerry in the Munster first round eight times in 11 years and it's quite the shame that a player of his talent only got to play a total of 25 championship games in his career.

"All you were ever dreaming of was a good draw"

And though he may not have got many opportunities, Browne made hay from scraps. In 1998, Tipperary were on the other side and with Limerick, Waterford and Clare in opposition, he hit 1-6, 0-9 and 1-7 in three games, earning him a first All-Star.

Kerry always managed to get the better of Tipp, but Browne still made his mark against the best, with Kingdom defender Seamus Moynihan taking it up from a Munster championship game in '99.

"We were doing the warm-up and Paudie, God rest his soul," says Moynihan. "He came up to me at the time and he said 'look we're putting you back on a fella here, Declan Browne.' We had spoken about him at training but I had to get my head around this that I wasn't in the half back line..."

"Once Declan got the ball, he was left and right and he knew where the goals were. Anytime you mark a fella like him, the red lights just went off whenever he got the ball inside the 21 or around the 13 yard line, and I wasn't long finding that out.

"Declan never went outside the 30 yard line and for me, the farther a forward went out the field, the happier I would have been. He played to his strengths because every time he got the ball, he was a danger. No different to Colin Corkery, if you were off him half a second, he would slot it right or left.

"Next minute anyway, the ball broke between myself and Declan and before I knew it, it was in the top of the net. It showed what a predator he was, because he hadn't seen the ball in ten or fifteen minutes."

Therein lay Browne's magic, the ability to strike at any given opportunity. A key to this he says, was positioning himself constantly within the shooting range.

"Some people called it laziness, which it was, but I always felt you were at your most dangerous closest to goal. Just to be in the shooting range of 30/35. I was never really one to take on a man, it was just get it and try kick it left or right. I knew I didn't have the pace or strength to go past lads..."

"He was anything but a lazy player," says Moynihan. "He made intelligent runs all the time within the danger-zone. Like Canavan, like Gooch, he received the ball on the half turn and when he was facing the goal...danger."

Finally, Browne got his day in the sun in 2005, when with the introduction of the Tommy Murphy cup, he lit up Croke Park with 1-7 in the final to beat Wexford and to become the first Tipperary man to lift a national football title in 75 years.

"They were the little things that kept us going."

You can listen to the Declan Browne tribute show right here.