Dublin footballer Michael Fitzsimons leads a coaching session in Bluebell Community Centre at the AIG Heroes event on Tuesday. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

DUBLIN footballer Michael Fitzsimons says the team haven’t yet had time to reflect the loss to Kerry in the Division One final last month that brought their all-time record 36-game unbeaten run to an end.
Jim Gavin’s senior side surpassed the 84-year old record, coincidentally set by Kerry, with a remarkable run of results stretching back to March 2015.
That all came to an end in Croke Park on April 9 when the Kingdom pipped Dublin to the Division One title by a single point.
“We’ve actually been with clubs the whole time so we haven’t reacted yet,” the Cuala man said at the AIG Heroes event in Bluebell Community Centre on Tuesday morning.
“Hopefully when we get back together we’ll make amends and put some learning from what happened.”
Fitzsimons and his teammates have spent the past five weeks with their clubs after league semi-finals in the top division were scrapped to combat player burnout.
The change reaped immediate rewards for the Cuala clubman as the Dalkey club progressed to the second round for the first time in five years with victory over Raheny two weeks ago.
Should Cuala go one further and overcome St Maurs in O’Toole Park on Thursday night, Fitzsimons will be in the unfamiliar position of going into the summer with club as well as county quarter-finals to look forward to.
“It’s worked out well this year with the league semi-final gone that we’ve gotten a little bit more time with our clubs to prepare for the championship.
“There was always a block when we’d be with our clubs for the championship, but I think last year the league final we literally played the championship the week after.”
Unlike the Dublin hurling championship, and football championships in many other countries, the Dublin football champions remains a straight knockout affair with no second chances.
It’s an unforgiving system, as shown by four years of first round failure for Cuala, but it’s one Fitzsimons feels adds to the excitement of one of football’s most competitive markets.
“It’s knockout championship football so you get what you put into it. We haven’t been good enough over the past few years so we’ve taken our medicine when we got knocked out in the first round each year.
“It’s exciting. You saw Castleknock get to the final in their first year of senior, which is fairytale stuff, and they could have gone on to win it. And if they win that, you never know where they go.
“It’s a throwback to the old championship formats – no backdoors, and if you want to win the All-Ireland you have to go the whole way unbeaten.”

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