Ex-Dublin forward Alan Brogan has identified a key battle that he feels could swing Sunday’s All-Ireland final between Dublin and Tyrone at Croke Park.
Speaking at the Family SportFest launch midweek Brogan explained that Ciaran Kilkenny could be a gamechanger for the Dubs and Tyrone’s success could depend on midfielder Padraig Hampsey’s battle with the Castleknock man.
Kilkenny has been in scintillating form this season and his fine displays, as well as his 2-21 total in six championship games, has seen the half forward become the front-runner for footballer of the year.
“I think the big battle for me will probably be Hampsey against Ciaran Kilkenny,” begins Brogan.
“Kilkenny is obviously the man that picks up most possession for Dublin, he’s kind of a playmaker, if he wants to go inside he can, I think he’s top scorer from play in the Championship.
“Padraig Hampsey has picked up Michael Murphy for Donegal and Conor McManus the last day, so he’s done two different roles for Tyrone, he seems to be the man-marker of choice, so I think that particular role will have a big bearing. And I think Ciaran is probably in the running for footballer of the year, I think he’s favourite for footballer of the year.
“Lee Keegan picked him up last year and just sacrificed his whole game for him, so if Padraig Hampsey is willing to do that, Ciaran’s role on Sunday could be about making space for others and maybe clearing out of that centre-half forward position to leave a gap in the Tyrone defence.
“But, I think it’s a big game for both guys. I think Hampsey has a big reputation coming into this game, Kilkenny’s probably the front-runner for footballer of the year, so I think that particular duel will go a long way towards deciding the game.”
Hampsey’s tenacity and battling qualities have epitomised Tyrone this season, and Brogan feels that their difficult run to the final will have made Mickey Harte’s men more battle-hardened as they search for their first Sam Maguire triumph since 2008.
“There is no doubt it (their run) made them more battle-hardened, particularly the loss against Monaghan in Ulster championship when they got beaten,” says Brogan.
“In a close game things are exposed that you might not pick up on when you’re beating teams comfortably, they had a handy enough win against Cork in the qualifiers, but apart from that, even the Meath game they were pushed right to the pin of their collar and probably lucky to survive against Meath.
“They have had a number of really close games where they would have learnt a lot about themselves, learnt a lot about their system and stuff, and I’m sure Mickey Harte has tweaked that along the way. They’ve certainly evolved from where they were in the All-Ireland semi-final last year and I think that can only be a good thing for Tyrone.”
Alan Brogan was speaking at the launch of the Family SportFest which takes place at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus on Sunday, 30th September 2018.