Close bonds and basic skills: the Fenton formula
In 'The Hill' Bernard Brogan talks about the special bond he had with his brother Alan and fellow Dublin forward Paul Flynn, and how this helped them spark off each other on the pitch.
Brogan sees the same kind of relationship between Brian Fenton, John Small and Ciaran Kilkenny in the current Dublin team and believes it's a big part of their success.
Fenton agrees and claims that if he was ever to manage a GAA team, that bringing the players closer together would be his first port of call.
"I think when people ask what's the secret," says Fenton at the launch of Avonmore Protein Gold, "it really is like genuine bonds and friendship in the group. I think there's so much to be said for it. From our point of view, it's people getting on, people being open with each other. Whether that's feedback or criticism or constructive feedback do you know.
"It's hard to quantify it but it is all that we are all just friends. Celebrations, winning and team holidays has helped but if I was to take a team tomorrow, whether it be underage or senior, I'd be saying, we really need to get these lads to know each other and that would bring them together."
"You'd be talking to them about scenarios or different movements you might add into your game. You might be more open with them in terms of critical feedback, or whatever it is. But I know in Dublin as a whole, we have that culture of giving open feedback, not calling each other out, but like we're all grown up about it and we give feedback openly.
"A couple of years ago, I told John Small for example, he was always planting off his right to go onto his left foot to kick a score when he's in that position. You know, just a little bit of feedback - 'you're a right footer like, plant on your left and go right' - and he kicked a score in All-Ireland final doing that move. It's just giving people that bit of feedback that might give them an extra yard..."
Next up would be a focus on the basic skills of the game. When Fenton was overlooked for a place on the Dublin minor panel, he took it upon himself to perfect these basic skills, and it's still a part of his routine today.
"It's something that I'm proud of (making it despite not playing minor) because you had to go about it a different way. That period of my life, it was about coming back to basics and focusing on the skills. I've noticed things now like, lads who can bounce with their weak hand out of a tackle, they can get away with so much like. If you're stuck to one hand or one foot, and being closely marked - if you have the second foot or hand, it gets you out of trouble - it's just those basic skills, it's so basic and when we're asked to go do coaching sessions, it's almost a disappointment because of how basic it is.
"From a footballing point of view then, we're lucky in Dublin that it is very skills based. Putting hours and hours into skills based drills and that."