DUBLIN’S POSITION AS favourites shows no sign of weakening but the identity of their opponents leaves Alan Brogan with a sense of caution before Sunday’s All-Ireland decider.
He suffered enough in the early part of his playing career to leave him convinced that Tyrone will not lack confidence when they arrive in Croke Park.
“Tyrone always believe, no matter how they’re going they always believe they can win. They’ll be going in on Sunday thinking they can beat Dublin.
“I think that the game up in Omagh in the Super 8s there will only add to that. Bar they missed a free when there was two points in it, Ronan O’Neill missed a free, if that free had have went over, who knows what would have happened that day?
“Looking at it from the outside in, it’s hard for anyone to see anything other than a Dublin win. But knowing Tyrone, having played against them over the years, they have an amazing sense of self-belief that they will be able to produce a performance.
“With Mickey Harte in charge, he’s tried and tested in All-Ireland finals. It’s taken them a long time to get back since 2008, I’m sure privately that would have been his motivation over the last few years was to get Tyrone back to an All-Ireland final.”
Brogan is uncertain what tactical approach Tyrone will adopt but feels they cannot repeat their plan for last year’s All-Ireland semi-final.
“I think there’s a sense of the unknown with Tyrone. They played Dublin last year, they played very defensively. They obviously changed the way they’ve played a bit this year. They are a bit more offensive.
“We’re not really sure how they’re going to play against Dublin. They need to come out and try and be brave, they need to come out and go after Stephen Cluxton’s kick-outs. I think if they do that, they have a chance.
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Alan Brogan at the launch of the Second Family SportFest.
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“There’s no doubt they have really good stylish footballers that are suited to the wide spaces of Croke Park. Both on the bench as well, they’ve a couple of guys on the bench that have caused trouble over the course of the championship. I think that’s another string to their bow.
“I don’t think there’ll be any huge surprises, it’s just a little case of ‘we don’t know how Mickey Harte is going to set Tyrone up to play against Dublin’. Dublin have to prepare for both eventualities, and I hope they come out, look it won’t be gung-ho but I hope they’ll come out and be as brave as they can and have a good go at Dublin.
“I think even as a Dublin supporter, and Dublin supporters want to see a good, close All-Ireland final, obviously we want Dublin to win.
“But as a footballing man, as a footballing fan, football has had its fair share of critics over the last number of months when you put it up against the hurling, so hopefully it will be a good, close All-Ireland final that’s very competitive.”
As they chase their sixth All-Ireland title in eight campaigns, Brogan has no concerns about Dublin’s mental focus despite being widely expected to triumph.
“Particularly when playing against Tyrone, there’s probably been a little bit of needle there over the last number of years. Tyrone, in fairness to them, are in the All-Ireland final on merit, probably are the second best team in the country on paper at the moment. They’ll certainly be looking to knock Dublin off their perch.
“I think this particular Dublin team, they’re very self-motivated. They don’t need anything from the outside to motivate them. They’re a very professional group of footballers.
“They’ll know what’s on the line at the weekend – it’s four All-Irelands in a row, maybe a chance to go for a five-in-a-row, even though they won’t be thinking about that. I think any All-Ireland final you play in, if you need to get motivated, there’s something wrong.”
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