Tomorrow’s Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC final against Midleton will be a seventh appearance in the showpiece for Glen Rovers’ Dean Brosnan, but it’s not an experience he’d ever take for granted.
Now 30, the wing-forward was still a teenager when he was part of the side that lost to Sarsfields in 2010, having made his debut the previous year. It was a quick rise that took him by surprise.
“When I was 16, I wasn’t playing on the Glen minor team but [current senior manager] Ian Lynam gave me a chance at U21 as a 17-year-old in 2008,” he says.
“I started midfield for the U21s and we won the county final, we beat Duhallow after a replay and that was a big thing for the club after losing the senior semi-final to Sars. It gave us a big boost and a platform to go off.
“It was the first semi-final in a decade and even in 2010, I remember us coming in here during the build-up and a video was put on and you realised that all these guys you’d looked up to – Seánie McGrath, John Anderson, Kieran Cal [O’Callaghan], Tadghie Murphy – had never played in a final.
“As a 19-year-old, I was taken aback by how big a deal it was but, now that we’re in our seventh, I don’t think that’s lost on us either, how much of a privilege it is to represent the Glen in a county final.”
After that 2010 loss, the Glen made it back to the final in 2014 only to fall to Sars again, with 16 points the final margin of victory. They lost to Ballymartle in the first round the following year, but Brosnan’s belief didn’t waver.
“I was at a retirement do in the Mon and I remember talking to one of the teachers there,” he says.
“We were just after losing to Ballymartle and I remember thinking that we had the team to make an impact.
“We had lost the first round but I just knew – I don’t know why – and I made a bet with him that the Glen would win the county. We did that and it was a great feeling.
“I don’t think you ever lose hope that you’re not going to win, the Glen always feel that they’re not too far away and it was a very young team at the time.
“It’s only when you look back, the oldest players were ‘Paddy’ [David Cunningham] and Graham [Callanan] and they were only 31 or 32. I don’t feel like I’m the most ancient player on the pitch now, either!”
He has more than played his part as the Glen bounced back from an early loss to Douglas by beating Bishopstown and then Newtownshandrum to qualify for the knockout stages. Further narrow victories over Imokilly and Sarsfields have brought them to tomorrow’s clash.
“Momentum’s a funny thing,” Brosnan says.
“Going into the Imokilly game after beating Newtown by a point gives you that bit of belief and then beating Imokilly by a point without Hoggie was a big thing.
“Then we had the boost of having him back for the Sars gave, so it’s just a case of rolling on with the momentum and next thing you know you’re in a county final.”
And, teaching in Scoil Oilibhéir – which he estimates is 90 percent Glen-populated – he certainly can’t forget that such a big occasion is in the offing.
“All the windows are green, black and gold now and that’s a really exciting thing,” he says.
“It’s a special thing for me, having the build-up inside with all the young kids. The other day a child from the unit came up to me and said, ‘Come on the Glen!’ whereas last year or the year before he mightn’t have been too verbal.
“You can see the buzz in him and that’s really special from a teacher’s point of view.”