Bernard Brogan: Winter football will suit Monaghan and Donegal
WINTER football will be a leveller, predicts Bernard Brogan, and the former Dublin attacker has picked out Monaghan and Donegal two of the counties that could profit from the late start to this year's All-Ireland series.
The Farneymen, who drew with Dublin in Division One at Croke Park back in February, have the physical attributes required to operate effectively on heavy ground, says Brogan, and when it comes to handling a wet ball on heavy ground, there's "no-one better" than Conor McManus.
"Teams like Monaghan and Galway are very strong physically and have a couple of silky forwards who can get scores," he said.
"The likes of McManus... in winter football there's no-one better. Damien Comer has the power to create his own scores... It's teams like that who I think this ground will suit and Mayo are a dogged enough team in those situations.
"It's a great leveller. Even coming up against a Sligo team that is well put together and very physical, so there is no game you would really fancy whether it's in Leinster or anywhere else.
"Take Donegal on the soft ground... They'd let you know all about it and Tyrone as well. So it's going to be really interested.
"Who is the best suited to it? I'd say the likes of a Monaghan, Donegal or Galway are teams that will be looking to go about their business in a positive way."
If the conditions do prove to be a leveller then there is obviously a greater chance of surprise results this year. With that comes the possibility of celebrations if, for example, Laois come through in Leinster or Down capture a first Ulster title since 1994, or if Mayo finally win the All-Ireland.
The unrestrained joyful outpourings after county finals were criticised but isn't there the same risk after inter-county Championship clashes?
"You'd see the same scenes," said Brogan.
"The GAA I'm sure are very aware of it and a plan needs to be put in place to manage situations like that with each county board. There'll be games that will be life-changing for fans of different teams and I am sure there will be a few bolters. I'm sure there'll be provincial medals coming back to places that haven't seen one for a long time or a county that wins the All-Ireland that mightn't have thought they would.
"Things are going to be a lot different and I think the GAA needs to learn. If Westmeath beat Dublin, what are the protocols in Westmeath to manage that situation? If Clare when Munster, what happens there?
"Will there be celebrations if a county does something special? Yes there will. Hopefully people will have learned from the club stuff. Emotions get the better of you so there needs to be a conscious plan around situations like that so that, whatever the gathering is, that it is protected and that things are done in a way that protect the community around it.
"There are lots of learnings out there already and I'm sure the GAA are all over it."
Armagh, Fermanagh and Down are among the counties who have confirmed Covid cases. The likelihood is that more will follow but Brogan says he would have no reservations in playing against a county after their squad had
"Personally I wouldn't have reservations," he said.
"Obviously there are risks there and maybe the testing needs to be upped so every is comfortable. There are loads of players who have vulnerable loved ones who might be nervous. There is a duty of care to the GAA to protect everyone and there needs to be a stringent plan.
"It's more difficult for the GAA because you can't put a panel up in a hotel for the week before a game. Or maybe you can? Maybe the GAA can cut deals, there might be opportunities there to bring players together and maybe protect them."