Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Ready to face Goliath
David Brady Interview
DON’T expect to see David Brady in a Mayo jersey again after next Sunday. His mind is made up and it’s going to be his last hurrah. He’s glad it’s ending in this way though because prior to last December when he met up with Mickey Moran and John Morrisson, in his own mind his inter-county career was over and done with. He had gotten tired of the whole package that went along with being David Brady the Mayo footballer.
Controversy seemed to follow him around and it was affecting him, not just him actually, but also those close to him, so instead of allowing it to fester and become sore, he closed his mind to the county game. He had won that elusive All-Ireland medal with his beloved Stephenites and he had moved on. Time for new things.
Enter two Ulster men and everything changed. Brady met up with the pair of them in December, made his mind up to return in January and nine months later, he’s about to take part in his fourth All-Ireland final.
Not bad for someone who wanted to put it all behind him a short while ago. He’s glad he came back, glad that he had met with Moran and Morrisson. At the same time he’s adamant that he can’t take anymore and he’ll say goodbye to all that next Sunday and get on with the next stage of his life.
‘’I know I won’t be able to do it anymore. Twelve years has taken its toll on the body and there’s no point in going on. Playing midfield at inter-county level is hard going, you take a lot of punishment and you’re up against the real heavy weights of the game so there’s no way that you can keep it going indefinitely. I’m happy with my decision and I know it’s the right one for me and for my family,’’ he said.
David Brady has meant a lot of things to a lot of people in the decade since he first started playing inter-county football. He seems to be loved and well, not so loved, in equal measure within the county. Opinion is divided on what he gives Mayo.
His fans point to the drive and physicality he offers, while his detractors says he doesn’t do enough around the pitch and gets himself involved in too many side issues. There may be merit in both viewpoints but one thing that both sides would probably agree on is that a tuned-in David Brady is a huge asset for Mayo. Which made the injury he picked up after he returned all the harder for him to deal with.
‘’I won’t say it was a nightmare but it was close to it. I had worked hard to getting back to fitness and then I broke the bone in my foot. But that’s football and I suppose it gave me time to look at the way the new regime was doing things and how we were progressing.’’ What he saw impressed him.
‘’Getting Kevin O’Neill back was huge, absolutely huge. He’s such a talented footballer and I think too it’s good the way that the management give the players responsibility to make decisions. I suppose that’s the main difference that I’ve noticed.’’
Other things have been noted too. Like the confidence of the Under-21 players and the almost manic drive not to let anything switch the focus from the 70 minutes of football next Sunday. ‘’Listen, Mayo players have never lacked confidence. Maybe, we’ve had too much at times in the past and not enough of hard work alongside it. But, when you look at the Under-21 players and how they gained in confidence from winning the All-Ireland and you see how hard they work at their game now, you realise that that can only be good for the county.
‘’Look, nothing can be allowed to come between us now and winning against Kerry. The mistakes we made in the past were allowing too many outside things get in the way of preparing for the 70 minutes and we didn’t realise that until the game had started and it was too late then. This (press night) isn’t important, the suits we wear, the hotel we stay in, the tickets … none of that matters.
“The only thing that matters is the match and that’s all we’re thinking of now and until it starts. Look, I’m not married but I reckon an All-Ireland final is probably as close as you’ll get to a wedding day. It’s that big of an event in your life and you have to do everything you can to be right for it.’’
Time out being injured and just the experience that comes with the passing of time has allowed him make a reasoned judgement on this current crop of Mayo players as to whether or not they’re ready for their biggest day. ‘’I said after the game against Dublin that this was more of a team than in 2004. I didn’t mean that as a cut at John Maughan and if I meet him on the street tomorrow we’d stop and have a good chat but what I meant was that players are now two years older and wiser and the experience they went through that day has stood to them.
“I can see it in them. The way they’re playing and training. I can see it their eyes even, there’s this sense that we can’t let what happened to us before happen again. It’s a good place to be at the moment.’’
In a sense he’s accepting of his lot this season. The missed weeks have meant that he’s not starting matches but while he doesn’t like it, he’s living with it. ‘’I hate not being picked but I have to get on with it. I know that when the team is announced to play Kerry and that if I’m not starting I’ll be hurting.
“That will last for a while and then I will start to focus on what’s right for the team because I know that it’s a squad game now and the fifteen players that start will hardly finish. I know everyone says that but that’s the reality of the game now and you have to be ready.’’
Eighteen months ago David Brady fulfilled one of his sporting ambitions when he won the All-Ireland club title. To borrow his own words it lifted one off the monkeys of his back. But there’s still another one stuck to him. ‘’I know what it’s like to win and what’s needed to win. I’m not going to be back after next Sunday so that monkey has to come off then.’’