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Brogan set to renew his rivalry with the Kingdom

By Declan Bogue

If there is one GAA family familiar with All-Ireland final week, it is the Brogans.

The old story goes that Bernard Brogan Snr met his wife Marie while on vacation at the Listowel Races. At the time, his Dublin side were engaged in a furious rivalry with Kerry as they battled throughout the 'Golden Years' generation of the 1970s.

Nowadays, his sons carry that torch, as they prepare to meet the Kingdom for the second time in the last five All-Ireland deciders, hoping for their third consecutive Championship win.

Bernard Jnr looks like Bernard Snr, while Alan, the 2011 Player of the Year, is the image of his mother. Alan, the veteran, knew more of the painful times of the Noughties when Dublin were consistently humiliated by Kerry.

When it's asked if 2011's All-Ireland triumph was any sweeter because they beat Kerry in the final, he replies with one of his trademark dummies.

"My mum is from Kerry so that brings its own little edge to it, even though she's probably a Dub at this stage!" he laughed.

"I have relatives down there and the history from the '70s is a big part of it but I think from our viewpoint going into this game, we'll just be trying to treat it as another game."

Kerry shaped this Dublin team, including the Brogans and their contemporaries, many of whom have already checked out of county football. If there was such things as the turning point, it was the 2009 quarter-final rout, when then-manager Pat Gilroy compared his players to 'startled earwigs' in the face of the early Kerry onslaught.

"We learned a lot of harsh lessons that day," Alan recalled. "Pat Gilroy has said himself that he certainly wasn't going to let that happen again and from 2010 on we started to bring a bit more structure to our defence."

Considering the elder Brogan began playing in 2002 and never had a sniff of a final until 2011, he is appreciating the autumn of his career.

"I've often said it to the guys, I was at county level for 10 years before I managed to even feature in a final," he said.

"I know they look like they're coming quick and fast at the moment but it hasn't always been that way.

"In 2011, it was probably just a sense of relief as anything else, that we managed to get there, particularly for the older guys in the panel that had been there for so long.

"I think there's a new bunch of players and they're very used to this sort of success now."

His truncated involvement in the 2013 campaign, when he was only truly available for selection in time for the final, along with an emotional series of images after the defeat in last year's semi-final when Alan brought his son onto the pitch afterwards in what appeared to be an emotional goodbye to Croke Park, led many to predict his retirement.

He's still going but admits, however, that he came close to calling it a day before returning to the squad in March.

"My wife was having a second child so that obviously was a big factor in it, that obviously brings its own pressures," he added.

"It is so competitive now, even in areas around recovery. I obviously don't have as much free time as some of the guys who are maybe in college.

"But I made the decision to go back around the end of March. I'm obviously glad I made it now that we're back in an All-Ireland final."

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