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'You don't own a bag of balls?...
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'You don't own a bag of balls? How can you be high performers?'

As he reflected on his Dublin career alongside Kieran Donaghy, Bernard Brogan highlighted the wisdom of a simple instruction issued by another icon of Kerry football, Paul Galvin.

Long before Bernard Brogan made his Dublin breakthrough, his father, Bernard Sr., had forged a path any aspiring young player would be desperate to emulate.

The winner of three All-Ireland medals, if that was not enough pressure the younger Brogan also had an older brother to contend with; Alan making waves with Dublin's seniors while Bernard struggled to impress underage.

By 2010, however, it was Bernard Brogan who was reckoned to be Footballer of the Year and across the nine seasons that followed would win seven All-Ireland medals of his own.

Throughout his recently published autobiography, The Hill, Brogan explores how this turnaround manifested itself and he stepped out of a long familial shadow.

In conversation with Kieran Donaghy at an OTB Sports GAA Roadshow in association with SuperValu, he boiled it down to one uncompromising fact, however.

"If you want to do something," he said, "you just need to work hard at it."

Bernard Brogan 27 April 2014; The Brogan brothers Bernard and Alan celebrate with the cup after the game. Allianz Football League Division 1 Final, Dublin v Derry, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Sportsfile

A simple message, it is one that Bernard Brogan credits with changing his outlook regarding what kind of Gaelic footballer he could be.

Moreover, he has noticed in the years since that it is exactly the kind of mind-frame that many of the game's top players seem to adopt as a necessity.

"It was actually Paul Galvin I heard when he was talking about being over with a team in London," recalled Brogan of hearing the former Kerry footballer similarly describe the benefit of hard work.

"He asked them how many of them owned a bag of balls and none of them put their hands up. 'You don't own a bag of balls? How are you meant to be high performers?'"

Although it took the fortuitous timing of an injury set-back in his late teens to realise it, Brogan saw in himself exactly what Galvin recognised as the benefits of self-improvement.

How could one improve as a Gaelic footballer if they were not constantly working with a Gaelic football?

"It was jolt of a cruciate injury that changed my world," he recalled. "My first thought was how I could get better. I wanted to be a different animal coming back off that injury.

"So, I put on about a stone of muscle, took on a bit of a growth spurt because I was only 18. I had injured my right leg so for the last month of my rehab I was kicking everything with my left.

"Throughout my career then I was better striking the ball with my left on the run because of that."

Bernard Brogan 18 September 2011; Bernard Brogan, Dublin, in action against Paul Galvin, Kerry. Picture credit: Sportsfile

Despite the wildly successful career, this period serves as a turning point in Brogan's own mind.

By his own admission, the St. Oliver Plunkett club man is not absolutely sure that things would have panned out quite like they did were it not for the realisation that he must drive himself on relentlessly.

"Sometimes, you can just be playing away and meandering through the days and training twice a week," he remarked of the issues complacency bring.

"So, I always say that to people when they get injured, 'How is this an opportunity?' If you're trying to achieve something, innovate, spark things up and do something different."

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Bernard Brogan Dublin GAA Gaelic Football Kerry Kieran Donaghy Paul Galvin

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