Kerry Football Captain Eoin Brosnan Up Close

January 25th, 2013
by Eamonn Fitzgerald

When Kerry play their first NFL game away to Mayo in Castlebar on Sunday next, February 27th at 2.00 pm they will not be led out by their captain Eoin Brosnan. I sat down with him on Monday evening last to interview him on this and on other matters.

OTB  (On The Ball) That must be disappointing for you.
Eoin  Of course I would love to be there ,but Anthony Maher will do a fine job, as he did in the McGrath Cup final win in Thurles( Saturday last)

OTB   What was your reaction when Dr Crokes nominated you as Kerry captain for 2013?
Eoin  Very honoured. I never aspired to that. I have been concentrating on my own performances with club and county for the last few years (after his return from retirement) and was happy with my own game. With Kerry there were some disappointments, but the Crokes just kept on winning and have had the nomination of the Kerry senior captain since 2011. When it was announced at the Dr Crokes' victory celebrations at the INEC just after Christmas, I certainly felt very honoured.

OTB  Recently, there was  huge disappointment for Brian O Driscoll  when Declan  Kidney appointed Jamie Heaslip as captain of the Irish team for 2013, even though O Driscoll has been captain for the past 10 years and O Driscoll is fully fit. How did Dr Crokes decision pan out between yourself and Colm Cooper, captain of Kerry for the past 2 years ?
Eoin  When it was announced in the INEC, Colm made a magnificent and magnanimous speech fully supporting my captaincy. That meant a lot to me. I certainly appreciated such public support. He came so close to winning the 2011 All Ireland and was determined to have one more go at it in 2012. Again, we were narrowly defeated by Donegal in the quarter-final and Colm said he now wanted to concentrate on his own game, without the responsibilities of captaincy. The club handled the matter very well.

OTB  Heaslip will have a very definite role in Wales where the rugby captain has a designated role in his dealings with the referee. How do you see your role as captain developing?
Eoin   The present Kerry team is a mixture of some very experienced players and then others ,who are just on the panel for a few years trying to make it on to the ream, and more players are  just trying to get on to the panel. The experienced players don't need my advice, but I will support them and assist the emerging players in their own preparations and efforts to assert themselves. Young players need that support to guide them along their paths to success.

OTB Playing with Kerry (& Dr Crokes) and the added responsibility of captaining the team must mean big sacrifices in your family and business lives.
Eoin  Yes. The commitments are huge. When I was offered the nomination by my club, I discussed it with Mary first and then with my extended family. They were so supportive. (Eoin has two chidren, aged 3 & 1). It is a big sacrifice for my family, as present day football makes so many demands on one's time. Training takes up 5 evenings a week, between indoor and outdoor sessions. The away matches in particular take up the most of two days. Kerry will leave for Mayo tomorrow morning at 10.00 am, do an outdoor session in Mayo later in the evening getting the tiredness of the long journey out of the system ,as much as anything else. The game is at 2.00 pm on Sunday and then there is the long journey home. On the business line my captaincy will mean more work for my business partner (Niall, his dad) and Brian Parker.

OTB  You has had injury problems since last August weekend. Fill us in on those set-backs.
Eoin. It happened v Donegal in Croke Park on August weekend (2012). The results from the MRI for the Kerry backroom medical team showed that I had torn two different calf muscles in my right leg. With treatment and rest I  was getting back to normal and returned to play for  the Crokes in the County c 'ship in September (2012). I felt myself that I was not 100% fit, but managed until it went again v Castlehaven in the Munster club match on the first week of December. An MRI once more showed that there was a single tear this time, so it was not as serious as the first time. We saw a window of opportunity, a 10 week gap before the club was scheduled to play the All Ireland club semi-final (Feb 16 v Ballymun Kickhams). I followed a programme of strength building, rest, and rehabilitation, as outlined by the Kerry medical team and things have gone perfectly to plan. Gradually, I have engaged in the Crokes training sessions. Last week I did two full sessions and eased myself into a match last weekend V Cavan in The Heath pitch near Portlaoise. I played for 25 minutes and felt no ill effects. The medical people are very confident this injury will not re-occur.

OTB  Eamonn (Fitzmaurice) will be a new manager for you. Any impressions?
Eoin This will be my 5th Kerry manager. Páidí Ó Sé (RIP), Jack (O'Connor), Pat (O'Shea), Jack again and now Éamonn. Each manager brings his own plusses to the team. Eamonn was a great player with Kerry and he has assembled a very professional management and back-up team for 2013. This includes physio., doctor, dietician, and trainer Cian O Neill, who comes with a great reputation from his work helping to bring Mayo to the 2012 All Ireland final. Eamonn is very open to ideas. He is a great listener and welcomes any ideas. He takes them on board before he goes off and makes up his own mind. Then it is an informed decision by him; that's how professional he is.

OTB  Do you realise that you are still in 7th position in the list of Kerry's all time goal scorers, yet you converted  from centre back for the past few years. How did that come about?
Eoin  Even though I was scoring goals regularly, I wasn't always enjoying my own game. Pat O Shea said in 2006-2007 that I had the potential to adopt to centre back. Over time, I was given a more defensive role with Kerry even while playing at centre forward, dropping back to assist midfield and sometimes to help out the backs. This was my role as sweeper. I have played in most positions for club and county, so it was not a big leap to go to centre-back.

OTB  Eoin. Can I move you on and suggest that you might fill the troublesome full back position ending your playing days with Kerry at No. 3.
Eoin. I am always willing and honoured to play in whatever position I am asked, be it for club, or county. I played a lot of my football for Crokes at midfield. On occasions I have been moved in to the full back position for Dr Crokes, but it is a very specialist area and that goes for the corner backs also. However, I would be much happier outside, where I can have far more freedom to get in to the game and go forward into attack, when the opportunity arises and it is prudent to do so. There is a huge responsibility in the full back line; it is difficult.

OTB  What do you recall from your early days in football ?
Eoin My parents were very supportive and I recall being taken up to the outside pitch in The Park(Fitzgerald Stadium) where we were encouraged by wonderful people such as Jackie Looney and others too. I loved it and then went up through the juvenile ranks. Patrick O Sullivan (currently chairman of the Kerry county board) took us from Under 14 up to minor level and we were successful. I learned a lot from the Under 15 Kerry Development squad sessions .Pat O Shea was very  influential. All young players fall in to bad habits and Pat was very sharp to pick up on these. He would show you a better way to improve. Then I had John Evans with Kerry under 21s and the 5 senior Kerry managers. You learn from all of them.

OTB  What do you do for downtime from your football commitments?

Eoin  As I said earlier, there is little time to do much more than football and work, so top priority is to devote this precious time to Mary, Annie, and Elizabeth. A very occasional game of golf and a walk in The National Park are precious opportunities to be appreciated.

OTB Have you seen many changes in the game since you started?
Eoin Yes, of course the game is constantly evolving, much of it for the better.

OTB Do I detect that you would also like to see some improvements?

Eoin Yes, both at club and county levels. I would love to see the All Ireland club competitions completed in one calendar year. Concentrate on the inter-county Feb-August and the club from August to December.

OTB  Any changes you would like to see in the games?
Eoin  Stamp out the cynical fouling and the proposal to introduce the black card is encouraging. We are competing with other sports, so we must make the game attractive, especially for the young people. The GAA has the infrastructure at grass roots level, but it needs to work on it. The tackle is contentious in the game. There is really no defined tackle in Gaelic football and referees' interpretations vary considerably. It is easy to pick up a jersey pull, but an honest effort at contesting the ball with an opponent is often penalised and that is frustrating for players. In fairness to the referees, I feel that there should be two officials per game, one referee for each half of the field. Then they would be much closer to the action and better positioned to call it. As regards abuse of referees, I favour giving them discretion to move the ball 50 yards upfield. Now that is a real penalty as we can see from the AFL internationals.

OTB  What do you enjoy most about the GAA?

Eoin  Striving for success at club and county levels  where you become part of that striving for success. You make great friends through your involvement, no matter where you go and these become friends for life.

OTB  Interest in other sports.

Eoin Running, cycling and golf come to mind.

OTB You have met some great footballers in your time.

Eoin  Colm (Cooper) is the stand out player for me and continues to be. Maurice Fitz and Jack O Shea were my idols growing up. Then you have Seamus Moynihan, the great O Sheas from West Kerry and Connie Murphy; these were all great players and there are many more. Great opponents I met while playing for Kerry include Nicholas Murphy, Ciarán Whelan, and Philip Jordan.

OTB   Realistically, Kerry with a very new look team must have little prospects on winning the All Ireland this year.
Eoin I do not agree that Kerry have little hope. We came very close in 2011 and then in 2012 we were still so close to Donegal on a day that so much went against Kerry. We conceded an easy goal. Both Bryan Sheehan and myself went off injured and he was missed for the frees. Had he been there he would surely have slotted some of the ones we were awarded; they were well within his range. I expect Donegal, Dublin and Cork will all be in the final shake up, as well.

OTB  And so to your future, Eoin.
I will continue at the highest level as long as this body allows me to do so and when my inter-county days are over I will continue to play with Dr Crokes and also play other roles in the club, such as coaching teams.

Eoin Brosnan Fact file;

Known affectionately by his friends in Dr Crokes as Broz/ Brossy, he is 32 years old (33 next May)& 6 foot 3 inches. A solicitor in partnership with his father Niall, he is married to Mary, a national school Teacher in the local 'Mon. He has 2 children, Annie(3) and Elizabeth (1). Eoin first played with Kerry v Louth as a 20 year old in 2000.Holder of 3 All Ireland SFC medals, 5 Munster, & 2 NFL titles, he played for Ireland in the International Rules 2004 & 2005. He won 5 county SFCs, 4 with Dr Crokes and 1 with UCC. He holds 3 Munster Club titles, 2 with Crokes & 1 with UCC. Retired from inter-county in 2009, but made a comeback in 2011. In 127 appearances with Kerry he has scored 24 goals .Even though he has been out of the forwards for quite some time, in the goals statistics for the most goals scored for Kerry ,he still stands in joint 7th place with John Crowley. The leaders are Sheehy, Liston, Egan, Cooper, Spillane and Jacko (Shea). His goal tally still has him ahead of Maurice Fitz, Mick O Dwyer, O Cinnéide, Tadhgie Lyne, Ger Power, Declan O Sullivan etc.

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