Ger Brennan loving life in Louth as he plots Dubs’ downfall

Sam Maguire winner believes Wee county are capable of a big shock

Louth manager Ger Brennan on the line against Donegal during the National Football League match played at Fr Tierney Park in Ballyshannon on Sunday 3rd March 2024. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Louth manager Ger Brennan Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

For a while back in 2022, Ger Brennan appeared nailed on to replace Seamus McEnaney as Monaghan’s new manager.

Vinny Corey eventually got the gig and Brennan bided his time before stepping into the shoes vacated by another legend of Ulster football management, Mickey Harte, in nearby Louth.

Coming in after iconic figures clearly isn't a problem for the former Dublin defender who has guided Louth to the Leinster final in his first season as an inter-county manager.

He also kept them in Division Two despite initial predictions that Louth’s strong form of recent seasons may evaporate following Harte’s defection to Derry.

So does it feel more like Brennan's team now, like he's been vindicated?

“I probably don’t subscribe to that way of thinking at all, it’s maybe the way I’m built or was brought up,” he said.

"It's very much the players' team, it's the county's team and I'm very lucky to have a very experienced and hard-working management team and support staff there as well who put in a tremendous amount of hours so I find it easy enough, to be honest.

"Taking over from somebody like Mickey Harte, it doesn't really bother me. I don't really care. I don't really think that way. I just feel lucky to be involved.

“I’m all about learning myself, picking up ideas from different people, picking up ideas from the players and from some of the previous management who have carried over into my own team and learning what was good about last year’s set-up and how they were so successful under Mickey Harte and Gavin Devlin.

“Then gradually you see things you’d like to change a bit because it might suit my style or my philosophy about how Gaelic football should be played.

"I think you have to be very pragmatic from week to week, from opponent to opponent, and set up accordingly to give yourself the best chance of getting a result.

"But I have to say that managing Louth, I find it easy because when you're managing a club you're getting all sorts of excuses, 'My Granny is sick' or 'My dog died' or 'I'm going to Electric Picnic', all these sorts of things.

"You're chasing up on fellas and trying to catch lads out. But in a county like Louth, they're so committed, they're so ambitious that it's been very, very good."

dublins ger brennan pic seamus loughran
Ger Brennan won All-Ireland with Dublin in 2011 and 2013 (Seamus Loughran)

Brennan said the reality is that there isn't a whole pile of difference between the application of the Louth players and what he saw throughout his own Dublin career which ended in 2015.

“What’s impressed me most is that I see no difference in how these Louth players are working and their enthusiasm to get better,” said the St Vincent’s man.

"I see no difference between them from when I was playing with Dublin."

Brennan acknowledged that it will be a ‘new experience’ on Sunday, plotting the downfall of his beloved Dublin. He wore the Dublin jersey every year from the age of 13 until he retired and won two All-Irelands, in 2011 and 2013.

He missed out on the 2014 defeat to Donegal through injury and it was often suggested that their defence mightn't have been plundered to the same extent as it was that day if they'd had the teak tough centre-back in place.

These days he is a father of four, the oldest of which is six, and his family wore a mix of Dublin and Louth jerseys recently when both teams were in action on the same Leinster semi-final bill.

"I'm able to park and compartmentalise in my head where I'm from and what I've been asked to do so I'm very much just focused on the task at hand," he said.

Few will be more aware than Brennan that Dublin haven't lost a game in the Leinster championship in 14 years, since the team he was part of were beaten by Meath in 2010.

"I was wing-back that day and we conceded five goals into the Hill 16 End in the first-half," he winced.

Can Louth do a Meath now and end Dublin's bid for 14-in-a-row?

“I suppose all great teams, all great legacies, eventually come to an end,” said Brennan.

"Maybe this is Louth's time to end Dublin's dominance of Leinster. I think we've seen what Derry were able to do in the National League final, which is a very good template.

“We’ve seen Kerry and Mayo in previous seasons push Dublin close, quite often resulting in replays in the latter stages of the All-Ireland series.

“So there is a good few examples there of how you can get at Dublin, and we’re just trying to put Louth’s best foot forward going into the match on Sunday.”