As far as debut seasons go, the 2015 season couldn’t have gone better for Dublin’s Brian Fenton. Catapulted into the team near the end of the national football league, the then virtually unknown player would end the season as the name on everyone’s lips.
In the opening minutes of his debut against Monaghan in Clones last season, Fenton announced himself to the GAA world with a brilliant goal, by the end of the year the Raheny clubman would have a National League, Leinster and All Ireland medal in his back pocket, along with the player of the match award in the All Ireland Final and an All Star Award.
It was some debut season for Fenton and everyone waited to see if he could replicate it this year or would he suffer suffer from second season syndrome, would he struggle now that the element of being a virtual unknown was gone, to reach the same dizzying heights.
The answer was an emphatic yes as he put in a string of top class displays on the way to winning his second National League, Leinster and All Ireland medals. His performances this season should also see him win his second All Star Award and he is also nominated for the Player Of The Year award with fellow Dublin teammate Ciaran Kilkenny and Mayo’s Lee Keegan.
But speaking to RTÉ Sport at the Gaelic Writers Association Awards were Fenton won the 2016 Football Personality Of The Year Award, the Dublin midfielder said that in the early part of the season he got a wake up call and had to do a bit of soul searching to turn his season around.
Fenton missed the early weeks to the season as he recovered from shoulder surgery. He was only back in the fold and was named in the starting 15 to play Cork in the National Football League in Croke Park back on the 5th of March. By the players own admission he had a stinker of a game and was replaced at the half time break.
“I remember one moment in particular from that Cork game,” recalled Fenton.
“Michael Savage was in goal that night and he took a short kick-out. I got the ball, turned, looked out the field and with a simple kick pass that would have been on nine times out of ten I just kicked it straight to an opponent.
“They came in, got a free and kicked it over the bar. Then you get the curly finger at half-time. I knew that night, it was a wake-up call for me. Looking ahead for the rest of the year I knew I had to put that hard work in.
“I was having an absolute stinker to be honest. That was definitely a wake-up call that I needed to get my sharpness up and my fitness up after the surgery.
“I knew then that if I wanted this year to be in any way as good as last year then I needed to pull up my socks as they say.”
And pull his socks up he did as he established himself once again this season as one of, if not the top midfielder in the country. At the tender age of just 23, Fenton has plenty of years left at the top level and at his current rate of improvement and his rising levels of performance may very well be hailed as one of the all time greats by the end of his career.
But thankfully for now Dublin supporters can enjoy the rise and rise of Brian Fenton for many years to come.