** by Cóilin Duffy
BERNARD Brogan says another Leinster success would be hugely important for Dublin as, along with aiming for five All-Ireland titles in-a-row, they seek their ninth provincial crown in succession this Summer.
The St Oliver Plunkett’s clubman wasn’t a part of the Dublin squad for their opening Leinster Championship game against Louth, which saw Jim Gavin’s men dispose of the wee county by 26 points.
“We try and win every game and the Leinster Championship has been a great driver for us over the years and it has given us great momentum,” he told the Dublin Gazette at the launch of Supervalu’s 10th year as sponsor of the GAA Senior Football Championship.
“I think there is some competition rising up around us in Leinster. I think that we are going to have some cracking games.
“Longford and Kildare both put in a good shift and Kildare are going to give us a fair crack, so I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds for us in the next game.”
If Stephen Cluxton features for Dublin this weekend, it will be his 100th Senior Championship appearance for the Blues.
Brogan says the Parnells keeper is a phenomenal player to have in the side.
“Like a lot of lads, Stephen is a leader. He is a guy who does his talking on the pitch and has really driven us on over the last couple of years as our captain as well.
“He is a very humble guy and keeps himself to himself, and just does the business and what’s asked of him. He has been such a great asset for Dublin and will continue to be.
“It’s a credit to him to get to the numbers of games, but that’s all down to the hard work and effort that he does. He works harder than everyone else. He is the first at training every day, so he’s an example to us all.”
35-year old Brogan is heading into his 14th Senior Championship campaign this summer with Dublin.
He says that he’ll keep going as long as he has something to offer the setup.
“You can take nothing for granted – every year I am playing every game as if it’s my last!
“God knows how long more I will be around, but as long as you can add value.
“I’ve always said I would play as long as I can feel that I can add value, or the management feel I can add value.
“At the moment, all I am trying to do is get out there and be competitive and keep driving the team on, and hopefully I’ll get an opportunity or two.”
Brogan says a key to Dublin’s success in recent years has been not to let it get on top of them, and that everything is taken step-by-step, rather than thinking about Sam Maguire successes from early in the year.
“For us we are a process driven team and we focus on that step-by-step,” he said.
“When we have done well, we have focussed on one game at a time – respecting our opposition, and getting out there and getting the job done, and once that’s done moving onto the next game.
“That’s what a high performance team does. It looks at what’s in front of them, and stays focussed and grounded on what the job is.
“This year will be no different. All we are looking at now is Kildare and then please God if we get over that we’ll look at the Leinster final.”