Legend has it that Brian Fenton arrived on the inter-county scene in the clone, announcing his arrival with a goal in under 3mins 15secs. , , And Dublin remained unbeaten for the next two years.
Of which up to a point is true. But like all legends, it is important to separate fact from fiction.
It is true that Fenton played from April 2015 (when he made his full NFL debut for Monaghan) to April 2017 (when Carey led Dublin’s record-sharing 36-game unbeaten streak to that year’s Allianz Football League Finals). Finished) never lost a game.
But he had previously starred as a deputy in the Division 1 campaign four times, and his first two cameo appearances in Cork and Carey ended empty handed.
In other words, Fenton knew what it was like to lose for Dublin before he conquered such a recurring habit.
The midfield colossus ventured deeper into their seventh season before tasting the acrimony of a championship loss against Mayo last August, so it’s easy to forget that Dublin were in a different place on the first day of February 2015, as the team bus. had led. For Páirc Uí Rinn.
In many respects they were still the team to beat; But his strategic direction under Jim Gavin in his All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal last summer cast all kinds of doubts.
Then Dublin selector Mick Deegan recalls: “We just took a look and said we definitely need someone to marshal in front of Square. Someone who can read the game and add to the play as well .
We learned a lot from Donegal’s loss. It was one of those games where we could go out of sight at half-time, but you catch everyone moving forward.
“It was a learning process and we changed the style a little bit then. It wasn’t all ‘go, go, go’ — we always said, ‘Look, we need someone sitting at six, to protect us. What’s going to happen if we’re playing against these so-called over-defensive teams that were all dropping back and breaking?'”
Seen through the prism of the upcoming six-in-a-row All-Ireland, Gavin’s match-day squad in Cork is fascinating on many levels.
Just five players were shortlisted to start against Donegal: Rory O’Carroll, Johnny Cooper, Jack McCaffrey, Eoghan O’Gara and Cormac Costello.
Changes were a mix of regular squad and rookies. In the latter, John Smalls started from centre-back; The decisive decision to reintroduce Cian O’Sullivan as a Holding/Sweeping No.
Dean Rock debuted on ’40s, but of even greater importance, assuming a mantra previously shared by Bernard Brogan and Stephen Claxton, was assigned to Frey.
The Rock held his hand in the O’Burn Cup, shooting 0–38 (0–10 out of game) in five matches. The ‘Son of Barney’ made a regular appearance during Gavin’s first two seasons and was included in Pat Gilroy’s squad before being dropped in 2012, but this was actually his first league debut. , , And he maintained his pre-season form by scoring 0-8 (4f), while the visitors were trailed from 1-15 to 0-16.
That same afternoon, a colorful rookie from Rahani entered the field after 47 minutes with Dublin one point ahead. It will not be remembered as Fenton’s finest 25 minutes, with no title moment as Cork scored five of the last six.
But it was still the beginning of something quite remarkable.
The year ended with Dublin at the All-Ireland Summit and Fenton was named man of the match against Carey. Rock also started the final, though confined to a brace of the first half free before being substituted – a brief stumbling block on his climb to become Dublin’s all-time top scorer.
Meanwhile, Smalls made his All-Ireland bow that year, coming off the bench at the three-quarter mark – but by 2016 he was firmly established to the left of Dublin’s half-back line.
Deegan recalls how his own son, Michael, was another Dublin sub for that 2015 league clash in Cork and actually scored his final point. At the time, he knew Rock better than Fenton or Small, but he soon realized how important these three would be to Dublin.
And there’s still more. According to Deegan, this decorated trio is “going to be huge” in Dublin’s quest to take back Sam, starting with Saturday’s quarterfinal against Cork.
“You ask John to do one thing, and he can throw out most of the best forwards out of a game. And Brian is the one who’s a midfielder. Box-to-box, can score, pass the ball.” could,” he enthused.
“Then there’s Dean in you. . . He’s grown into a great all-round player. People used to say he’s only for his freebies, but over the years he’s proven he can add to the drama and that’s it. Can score from the game too.
“But to win the All-Ireland, you have to have one if not two really good free-takers.”
As for the rebellious chances of repeating that 2015 victory on Saturday, the mood is not so skeptical as realistic. These once fierce rivals have been operating in different galaxies for most of the seven years since then.
During the first half of the last decade, they were constantly at odds with each other: between 2010 and ’14 they met nine times in leagues and championships, with Cork winning five.
The record was followed by Páirc Uí Rinn at 6–4. , , But already Brian Cuthbert’s team was almost unrecognizable to the 2010 All-Ireland champions of Conor Cunihan.
When fighting resumed in the 2015 league final, Gavin’s men ran a riot, winning 1–21 2–7. As Cork proceeded to rotate through the divisions – they have only met twice, with both Dublin victories, three years earlier in the 2016 league and championship.
Cork won’t need to be reminded who scored the last of Dublin’s five goals at the 2019 Super 8 scorefest. A brilliant gliding midfielder by the name of. , , Brian Fenton.