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Dublin boss on their goalkeeper leader - 'He’s just a phenomenal player for us'

Stephen Cluxton made a couple of stunning saves for Dublin in yesterday’s All-Ireland football decider.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

WHEN DUBLIN’S NEED was greatest, their captain supplied some big moments in yesterday’s All-Ireland decider.

A penalty save from Paul Geaney’s shot to deny Kerry an early rallying point in the form of a goal. A stunning fingertip intervention to divert Paul Murphy’s rasping second-half drive onto the crossbar in front of Hill 16.

And a succession of brilliant kickouts at key times, like the launchpad in the 18th minute for Jack McCaffrey’s goal when he found Brian Howard.

Jim Gavin may have been disappointed in Dublin’s overall performance but the input of their goalkeeping leader Stephen Cluxton did not surprise the All-Ireland winning boss.

“When you see the work that he puts in, every day that he’s working with the goalkeeping coach. He’s just a phenomenal player for us first and foremost who really goes after his craft of goalkeeping.

“He’s just so impressive and has a great influence on the squad that permeates, guys see him setting that standard and that to me is leadership in its purest form, setting an example and influencing people around him, and that’s what Stephen does.”

Brian Howard was another bright spot for Dublin, Gavin revealing that the Raheny man ‘had no more to give’ which informed their decision to take him off in the 68th minute.

“No, he wasn’t. Brian put in a serious shift this afternoon. He can be happy with his performance, he really worked really hard for the team and gave it everything. He had no more to give so we took him off.”

Dublin’s substitute selection yesterday provoked as much interest as their team line-up. Bernard Brogan, Rory O’Carroll and Eoghan O’Gara were some of the established names not involved in the 26-man squad. 

Gavin stated there is a chance now for players to stake their claim to come back into the frame for the replay on 14 September.

“Yeah, it’s a good point. They do. We’ll recover as best we can over the coming days and go back training, and yeah it opens up again.

“We have a very strong squad and lots of players will be hungry to get on the squad, to get game time. Yeah, it opens up again.”

jim-gavin-and-jason-sherlock-look-on Dublin and Kerry management watch on in injury-time yesterday. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

It was put to Gavin about the pressure generated by the five-in-a-row bid having an impact on Dublin’s performance. The Dublin boss did not place much value on that argument.

“From our perspective every day that we go out, no more so than today, it’s about trying to perform to the best of your ability. It wasn’t good enough today, simple as that. Can have no excuses for it, so we just need to go away and try and learn from it. That’s the way we’ve always looked at it. It’ll make no difference in 13 days.

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“Just disappointed with our performance, that’s the overriding thought. As I said, the resilience the Dublin players showed to be on the ropes as such and to still to keep moving and keep creating scoring chances, keep turning the ball over, that’s obviously the impressive piece, but overall in the expanse of the game, just not good enough from the standards the players set for themselves, not what I set for them.”

Gavin was impressed with Kerry’s performance.

“They have been so impressive. Against us in the national league, we met them in Tralee and good a really good look at them up close. They got to the league final, didn’t go their way, but they were very impressive in the Munster championship and the All-Ireland series.

“A lot of questions asked of them against Donegal when they were down a couple of players. Four points down against Tyrone and, no more than against ourselves, they came back fighting. That side is full of quality. Like ourselves, age doesn’t mean anything: if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Their players did really well today.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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