"You're still trying to get your one-rep max higher, and your fitness higher" 5 months ago

"You're still trying to get your one-rep max higher, and your fitness higher"

Footballer of the Year, four-time All-Star, five-time All-Ireland winner, All-Ireland final man of the match.

For six years, Brian Fenton has been unbeaten in Championship football for Dublin and for six years, he hasn't met a fellow midfielder who could touch him.

As far as Gaelic football is concerned, Brian Fenton is the king of all he surveys.

Yet Brian Fenton nearly fell through the cracks. He wasn't good enough for the Dublin minor football team eight years ago, and Dessie Farrell was the man who said so.

"He sort of turfed me aside at minor. Maybe I had about six months of him then before I was cut..."

"As a minor, I was still small so I played half forward. Not that I was a prolific scorer or anything but I played half forward for Raheny..."

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But there were better half forwards in Dublin and Fenton watched on as the county's supposed golden generation were beaten by Tipprary in the All-Ireland final.

It's not something the Raheny maestro has spoken to Farrell about in the last few weeks but he says it did give him a 'chip on the shoulder,' that would help inspire his remarkable rise in the years that followed.

By under-21, Farrell heard about Fenton's form for Raheny and called him back in and the rest is written in the annals of GAA history.

"Ah yeah, I think you always have a chip on your shoulder if you’re told you’re not good enough. You just drive on and luckily, I was still in Raheny, my life sort of facilitated me just staying at Gaelic football. I was in UCD and there was an excellent Gaelic football set up there.

"So at the age when a lot of youngsters drift away from it and you know, might have to go to college in Dublin if they’re living in Sligo or something like that, I was very lucky, the stars aligned in lots of ways and I was driven and I was eager to play with Dublin. That was the dream and luckily it came through..."

"I’ve never spoken to him (Dessie) about it, I won’t be now for the next few years either. But yeah, he cut me at minor and brought me back in in the next few years then for the 21s so I’ve a lot to be thankful of to him for. He’s just an absolutely incredible man in terms of footballing knowledge and how he drives players to be their best. We’ve a great relationship. He’s cut from the same cloth as Jim, and we’re very lucky to have Jim and now Dessie.

"I’ve heard Dean Rock speak about the chip on the shoulder but it’s not always that, for me certainly, that sense of expectation and that, not that ‘oh I’ll show people’ but more so that i’ll try my best and tear in. Other players are driven by stats and improvement and distance and stuff like that and that’s an important part for me as well but I think it’s more so what about what’s gone before - this high ball or I’m going to try and dispossess you. It’s all those little things, I’m a very competitive personality so anything I can win at, we’ll try and give it a lash..."

And he's won plenty. As for the five-in-a-row win last September, it was a special day that he'll never forget.

"It was just such a fairytale. I think it was a 6.00 kick-off and it was around 7.30 when the final whistle blew, and you were looking around Croke Park...aw it was a fairytale, people crying. You couldn’t have dreamt of it any better..."

But don't for a second think that Fenton and his teammates will have their appetites sated by five, and it's an interesting point he makes when emphasising the role stats will have in keeping every player competitive.

"But look, it’s done now. You’re still trying to get your one-rep max higher and your fitness higher and cover more distance and get more tackles so, we go again and hopefully this year is as good as last year."

Mitsubishi Motors Ireland are delighted to announce their new partnership with Dublin GAA as official vehicle sponsor. Pictured are Dublin footballers Brian Fenton, right, and Paddy Andrews at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile