They say good things come to those who wait. If this is truly the case, then surely the Capital has waited long enough for its eagerly anticipated reunion with the elusive Sam Maguire.
The long search for Sam began in 1996 when Dublin failed to reach the dizzying heights of their success the previous year. Sixteen years later, we are still waiting.
Those heady days in 1995 are a distant yet recurring memory as young school children, myself included, were granted the honour of getting our hands on Sam, the holy grail of inter-county football.
It was an exciting time for Dublin football as the heroic team made its way to every school and GAA club in the county in proud recognition of the honour which had been bestowed upon them and an in gratitude of the unending support which their Dublin fans had shown them.
This ferocious support and unquestionable commitment to the cause has faltered slightly in the intermittent period since 1995 as the new blue generation failed to recreate the success of their predecessors.
However, having reached four All-Ireland semi-finals since 2002 and having endured painful near misses such as the agonising one point defeat by Armagh in 2002, Mayo in 2007 and finishing on the wrong side of a one point deficit as recently as last year’s defeat to Cork, the belief in the county is rife that the hay day is approaching once more.
Many theories and opinions as to why Dublin seem to fall at the final hurdle have been offered and shared amongst pundits in the wake of every disapointing defeat or shocking exit endured by the blues in recent years.
A lack of steel at the crucial moment, an absence of hunger, the weight of expectation as a result of a media frenzy and an over reliance upon key players are just but a few of these theories.
However, many have detected a change in the Dublin temperment of late and certainly their playing approach has changed.
Following a second half disintegration against Cork in the National League Final in January and a lack lustre Leinster campaign, a reinvigorated Dublin side lined out against Tyrone in 2011 All-Ireland quarter final, dismissing the 2008 champions in a comprehensive fashion.
A phenomenal team effort blew the Red Hand out of the water and not only booked Pat Gilroy’s team an All-Ireland semi-final berth, but earned them a red-hot favourites tag for this Sunday’s meeting with Donegal.
Unfortunately, particularly for Dublin, the obvious downfall of such a glowing performance is that a wave of expecation grips the capital’s supporters and can lead to players getting sucked into level of complacency before a ball is even kicked.
Along with the impressive Diarmuid Connolly, the Brogan brothers, Bernard and Alan, will be watched closely by the Donegal defence today if the Farney men are to have any hope of setting up a final date with Kerry in three weeks time.
While Pat Gilroy has intoduced many new additions since taking over at the Dublin Senior helm, a footballing dynasty is still very much alive at the hear t of the metropolitans attack.
The Brogan brothers are no strangers to the Dublin plight and they will be acutely aware of what it means to achieve All- Ireland glory as they step out onto Croke Park’s hallowed ground this afternoon.
The brothers father, Bernard Brogan Senior is a former All-Ireland and all-Star winner with Dublin and was a key compenent of the Dublin team which enjoyed great success in the seventies.
He was on the all-Ireland senior football winning side for Dublin in 1976 against rivals Kerry by a score line of 3-8 to 0-10. The following year he got the crucial goal in what many believe to be the greatest game of all time when Dublin defeated Kerry in the All Ireland Football semi final.
A few weeks later Bernard collected his second All Ireland medal when Dublin defeated Armagh by a score line of 5-12 to 3-6. The senior Brogan also received an all-star for his performances in 1979
His son, Bernard junior, Brogan is confident that Pat Gilroy’s men won’t fall prey to any of the hype or complacency that supposedly derailed the Dubs in the 1992 All-Ireland final against Donegal. “I was only seven years old, so I remember none of the hype in the build up to that game. But I can guarantee that hype is not something that we let affect us.”
The 2010 footballer of the year wrote on his exclusive Dub Hub blog on www.hill16.ie, “We didnt fire on all cylinders in Leinster and we know that has to be a different story in the All-Ireland series. This is going to be a ferocious battle – but we’re confident that we can go out and perform if we replicate our work rate and are willing to die for the ball.”
A sell out crowd, the first of the 2011 championship campaign, will descend upon Croke Park this afternoon as an expectant crowd hope to witness their beloved dubs cemenet their position at the helm of inter-county football. Supporters want to see an assured and resilient side emerge from the dressing rooms today as they aim to demonstrate that their impressive dismissal of Tyrone was not a one hit wonder and they aim to position themselves only 70 minutes from recreating the heady success of 1995.
However, three weeks on from that exhilarating quarter-final performance the call is slightly different as performance really doesn’t come into the eqaution this weekend. The only thing that matters is a result, and whether that’s achieved in the most negative fashion imaginable will matter little to a Dublin team striving to bridge a 16-year gap to their last All-Ireland final appearance.