Five is merely another number in Dublin playbook

Considering the three-and four-in-a-rows weren’t discussed, Brian Fenton doesn’t expect Jim Gavin to utter the thus far elusive five when Dublin get back to the grindstone in January.

Fenton admits there’s an “obsessive” streak to the group, which would suggest going where no other inter-county football team has gone before would particularly appeal to them, but the midfielder says treating games and seasons in isolation has been key to their success.

“From a management point of view, they never address twos-in-a-row, threes-in-a-rows, fours-in-a-rows; it is always called Leinster Football Championship (game) One, Leinster Football Championship Two, and that sort of process. So it’s never been mentioned, the whole in-a-rows. And I can’t imagine next year being any different — I think it’s going to be National Football League One and from there on.”

And the players?

I can’t speak on behalf of the group. But for myself, it’s no different, any time you get the jersey you want to do yourself justice and play well and do the lads around you justice. It is important that we come back fully focused on the challenge ahead and whether it’s National Football League or whatever, we’ll just tear into it.

The recent managerial appointments in Kerry and Mayo haven’t gone unnoticed in the capital and Fenton is already looking forward to playing Kerry in Austin Stack Park on February 9.

“They have put a serious management team in place, Maurice Fitz is formidable and he is bringing with him that experience from working with Éamonn Fitzmaurice last year. And Mayo as well, I am sure Mayo were frustrated with how their year ended. I know I would be if Dublin were knocked out early. I am sure they will have their own plan put in place, James Horan knows the game inside-out and they will be in a very strong position next year, no doubt.”

The 25-year-old was one of the inter-county players who contributed to the ESRI’s recently published report on the demands faced by footballers and hurlers.

“Players are obsessed. I know I am and the group in Dublin are just obsessed with trying to get the best out of themselves and just be in such a good position when match day comes to perform.”

Fenton’s attitude extends to his own game. The Raheny man is shortlisted again for footballer of the year although he doesn’t believe 2018 was the best of his four senior seasons. “I wouldn’t think so. If I actually look at it, my stats were

as probably lower in possession in general than other years. I don’t know. I think there is a tendency if you are on the scoreboard you are sort of in the limelight a little bit more.

“If you were to break down and look at stats, kickouts and all that sort of stuff (it might be a different viewpoint). That’s what I’d base performance on rather than just, ‘Ah Jesus, wasn’t he great, he scored a point here, two points there, whatever’; thankfully it’s been consistent and long may it continue.”

Fenton and other midfielders’ kickouts could jump considerably in the forthcoming Allianz League if the new experimental rule is implemented and he is interested to see how they work.

“Anything that makes the game more for the spectator a better watch, I’m a big fan of. Anything to promote the skills — high catching, more scores, the whole lot — I’m all for it.”

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