Brian Fenton has described Dublin's All-Ireland defeat by Mayo as a release of pressure on him and the team. Speaking at Thursday's launch of Avonmore Protein Milk's new Pro Oats product, he said that whereas he wouldn't describe it as a relief, it was a 'monkey of your back'.
“Disappointing, but I think again in many ways, the monkey is off your back or the pressure balloon is burst, you know that sort of way?
“It’s not a relief. I don’t want to say it’s a relief but that’s it done now and I think for me and for the team, certainly, it’s just a complete reset button and we’ll go at it again. Right, who’s in the group, who are the 30 lads trying to take it on next year?
“Thankfully that sort of narrative around me never having lost a championship game will be gone now and I won’t be asked about it. It’s just sort of, here we go again, trying to get to the top again.”
Losing last August’s semi-final brought to an end Dublin’s six-season unbeaten championship run and Fenton’s own personal record of never having lost in a career of 44 championship appearances.
“In many ways it wasn’t this big shock for me, to be honest, or this big momentous event. I’m well used to losing in many ways in different sports growing up. It was just, I suppose, that whole narrative around me and this Dublin team at the end of that run of games.
“That was new, certainly, and I suppose the immediate aftermath in that dressing-room was certainly new as well, that was a new experience. It was no different, it’s disappointing obviously when you’re a sportsperson and you’re a competitor.”
He said that the constant speculation around the possible return of goalkeeper and former captain Stephen Cluxton hadn't been a distraction as the team set about extending their record to seven-in-a-row All-Irelands.
“At the time, when we were aware that he wasn’t coming back, I thought it would be a distraction and this big thing and that was there in the media for sure but inside the group, I don’t think it was.
“We’re all mature enough and long enough on the road to know that players come in and out. Dermo (Connolly) has come in and out, Jack (McCaffrey), Paul Mannion. They’ve come in and out in many ways and as the year went on, it certainly wasn’t a distraction for us, as much as I certainly thought it would be at the start.
Asked about Cluxton’s plans, he said he was no wiser than anyone else although he did stay in touch with him.
“I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be great to have him back but the fella is almost 40 now? I’m slagging him saying he’ll be playing Masters next year. I reached out to him for pints and stuff and he’s still there, still alive and still a friend but I don’t know is the truth.
“We chat all the time, well no more so than any mates. I’m sure I’ll see him at a Damien Dempsey gig over Christmas, please God if they go ahead but to be fair looking back, would you fault Evan Comerford?
"I don't know if you would and he is the most professional athlete you'll come across. As good as the 'keepers were in the All-Ireland series, I'd say Evan Comerford will have numerous All-Stars going forward. He certainly helps me to field when he's kicking it out."