Brian Fenton has said that Stephen Cluxton’s absence from the Dublin panel was not a distraction for the players this year.
Long-serving Dublin captain Cluxton played no role for his county this year, although the 39-year-old has not yet announced whether he has decided to retire from inter-county football.
There was plenty of speculation in the media about whether or not Cluxton had called time on his career with Dublin, but as of yet, no decision has been made public.
Fenton revealed to the Irish Examiner that those in the Dublin set up are also unaware about Cluxton’s plans for the future, but insisted that his absence did not serve as a distraction as the Dubs failed to win their seventh All-Ireland title in-a-row.
Brian Fenton on Stephen Cluxton.
“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,” Fenton explained.
“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.”
“I don’t know [if Cluxton will return], 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.”
— Dublin GAA (@DubGAAOfficial) October 18, 2020
Dublin will fancy themselves to retake their crown.
Although Dublin looked off the pace in this year’s All-Ireland Football Championship, very few people would write off their chances ahead of next year’s championship.
The Dubs have lost several key members of their panel in recent years, but it is still a side packed full of serial All-Ireland winners, with plenty of young talent coming through the ranks as well.
Several counties will be revitalised by Tyrone’s unlikely triumph this year, while Kerry will again be expected to fulfil their potential under returning manager Jack O’Connor.
Next year’s championship may well be the most difficult to predict in a long time, but Dublin will be desperate to make a statement after an underwhelming season in 2021.