By Colm Keys in The Irish Independent
Thursday September 15 2011
The 'ambition' question at the end of the personal player profiles on the the 'dubhub' section of the 'Hill 16' website throw up answers you would expect to see from a group of footballers in their 20s still striving to reach the top of their craft as a team.
Without exception, every player canvassed placed an All-Ireland title with their county as the stand-out goal; many more includedsuccess with their club as an equal priority. Few, if any, ventured outside the parameters with anything else.
Ger Brennan did, however. After success with St Vincent's and Dublin, Brennan's 'ambition' in life is to "deepen my relationship with God."
It is not uncommon for such strong spirituality and sport to mix, even in an Irish context. Ireland rugby player Andrew Trimble studied theology at Belfast Bible school and considers himself a devout Christian.
Former England wing Jason Robinson also took a spiritual path in his life after coming into closer contact with the former Samoan and New Zealand powerhouse Va'aiga Tuigamala.
For Brennan his desire to deepen his relationship with God has also manifested in a theology degree from St. Patrick's College Maynooth and his immersion in the preparations for next year's 50th Eucharistic Congress.
The Congress, staged every four years across the world, is back in Ireland for the first time in 80 years and after six days of celebration and information at the RDS it will culminate inCroke Park with an expected 80,000 congregation.
Dublin centre-back Brennan has been a key component of the preparations, acting as a pastoral assistant for the Congress' ministry to youth until recently, a task that involves delivering talks in various Dioceses across the country. Those who have heard the testimony of his faith have been impressed by his powers of communication on the subject.
On the weekend of October 14-16, he will share a platform with Tyrone manager Mickey Harte as part of the Diocese of Meath's Eucharistic Congress preparations, outlining to young people the role that God plays in his life.
Tuigamala brought a huge physical edge to his game -- the image of him smashing his way through opponents with such force was somewhat at odds with a softer spiritual side. And there is something of that contrast with Dublin's defensive enforcer too who, by his own admission, has had to overcome a discipline issue on the field to mature into the player that he is.
He takes his sport seriously. He takes his faith very seriously too. And both are leading him to 80,000-plus congregations of the faithful in Croke Park.
- Colm Keys