Brian Fenton talks five-in-a-row final whistle memories, driving on under new manager Dessie Farrell after Jim Gavin’s departure, the attacking mark, and briefly playing club for Raheny alongside Ciaran Whelan.
Brian Fenton admits he was shocked when Jim Gavin announced his departure from the Dublin job.
The latter had led the Dubs to six All-Ireland titles in seven seasons as manager, with the side creating history by completing a first ever five-in-a-row of titles.
When taking over in January, Dessie Farrell became only Fenton’s second manager at senior level following Gavin’s abrupt exitin late November.
It came as much of a shock to the midfielder as it did the rest of us. He was in Spain when he heard the news.
“We were due to be getting together for a team photo and I was happy enough to forgo the team photo because I was lucky enough to get a trip away with my girlfriend,” Fenton recalls.
“So I was away and I got a call from her dad who let me know that Jim had stepped away. He was like, ‘Did you see the news?’ and I said, ‘What news?’ So I didn’t have a clue.
“It certainly came as a shock to us all. I missed the session then that night in Dublin, which was a big regret. And that’s not a pitch session! So I missed that.
“Look, it was a huge surprise but you think about his reasoning and taking all things into account, can you really blame him?
“He certainly owes us nothing and we’re very lucky to have worked with him and worked under him. So lucky.”
It’s taken as a given that Fenton is the number one midfielder in the game just now.
That’s a viewpoint that stands to reason given the All Stars, the Footballer of the Year award, and his winning record in the blue jersey of Dublin.
Rewind a few years and Fenton’s gilded future was anything but certain. Dessie Farrell had dropped him at minor level, but he kept pushing with Raheny and UCD.
A recall came from the Na Fianna man midway through the 2014 All-Ireland Under-21 run, and Fenton finished the year by starting at midfield in their final victory over Roscommon.
“I’ve never spoken to him about it, I won’t be now for the next few years either,” Fenton told OurGame.ie in February 2020.
“But yeah, he cut me at minor and brought me back in in the next few years then for the Under-21s so I’ve a lot to be thankful to him for.
“He’s just an absolutely incredible man in terms of footballing knowledge and how he drives players to be their best.
“He’s just a great person and a wizard at his craft as well that he’ll dedicate almost too much time to it.
“We’ve a great relationship. He’s cut from the same cloth as Jim (Gavin), and we’re very lucky to have had Jim and now Dessie.”
Brian Fenton was at the launch of Dublin GAA’s official partnership launch with Mitsubishi.