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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 18 June, 2019
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Gavin hails Cluxton's 'relentless pursuit' of excellence after his record-breaking weekend

37-year-old Stephen Cluxton became the first player in either code to reach 100 championship appearances.

Jim Gavin celebrates with Stephen Cluxton after the 2018 All-Ireland final.
Jim Gavin celebrates with Stephen Cluxton after the 2018 All-Ireland final.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

JIM GAVIN PAID tribute to Dublin’s centurion Stephen Cluxton after the goalkeeper made his record 100th championship appearance on Sunday.

Cluxton pulled off fine saves to deny Kildare’s Ben McCormack and Keith Cribbin goals in the Leinster SFC semi-final, as the Lilywhites fell to a heavy 0-26 to 0-11 defeat.

It was the 56th clean sheet the 37-year-old has kept in the All-Ireland SFC since making his senior debut for Dublin against Longford aged 19 in 2001.

“From talking to Stephen, you wouldn’t even think of that,” said Gavin of his netminder.

“His application and preparation this week was again right on the money. It shows his dedication, his commitment to Gaelic games, first and foremost, to his club, Parnells, and, by extension, to Dublin GAA.

“I suppose he sets a great example for all of the players in terms of his relentless pursuit of trying to be the best he can be, on and off the field of play.

“That’s a great example to leave his fellow players,” continued Gavin.

“They penetrated us for a few times and could have come away with a couple of goals.
That would have put a different dimension on the game.

“We’re just glad they didn’t go in. He made two exceptional saves.”

Stephen Cluxton saves a shot from Keith Cribbin Stephen Cluxton saves a shot from Keith Cribbin. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Gavin confirmed that Dean Rock and Jonny Cooper have returned to training and will come into contention to feature in the Leinster final against Meath on 23 June.

“I haven’t seen anything of Meath this year bar the time we played in the Sean Cox charity game before Christmas.

“They were flying it then up in Navan and obviously they’ve had a good league campaign to get up to Division 1, it’s a fair achievement, Division 2 is very competitive.

“So we’ll have a look at Meath over the next couple of days because I suppose any Dublin-Meath game, they’re always close and intense and we’ll look forward to a big game.”

Paddy Andrews made his comeback to the field as a second-half substitute after recovering from the broken jaw he suffered against Tyrone on 16 March. It was no surprise for Gavin to see the St Brigid’s forward return from the injury inside three months.

“From speaking to him in hospital on St Patrick’s Day, he made it quite clear he would be back soon,” he said.

“I know Paddy for many, many years now, he’s a very determined, very focused man and I’m not surprised.”

Dublin fans look on Dublin fans in the rain. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Just 36,126 showed up to watch the Leinster semi-final double-header at Croke Park, although Gavin took little notice of the crowd.

“I thought from what I could hear in the game, in the breaks in play, there was a massive Dublin support there,” he said.

“They were very vocal, very loud, and we’ve been very fortunate over the last number of years to have a dedicated support base that travel the length and breadth of the country with us.

“In the game I didn’t hear (the attendance figure) on the tannoy, and if you ask me what the attendance was here today compared to last year, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, to be honest, and that’s not being flippant about it.

“So from my perspective, I’m really happy with the Dublin support that have followed us, that’s all I can say on that.”

******

Stephen Cluxton is now 11 games clear of Sean Cavanagh in the all-time appearances list, while Ó Sé brothers Marc and Tomás sit in joint-third.

Most championship appearances

1. 100 - Stephen Cluxton, Dublin (2001-2019)
2. 89 - Sean Cavanagh, Tyrone (2002-2017)
3. 88 - Marc Ó Sé, Kerry (2002-2015)
3. 88 - Tomás Ó Sé, Kerry (1998-2013)
5. 85 - Colm Cooper, Kerry (2002-2016)
6. 81 - Darragh Ó Sé, Kerry (1997-2010)
7. 77 - Andy Moran, Mayo (2004-2019)
8. 76 - Tom O’Sullivan, Kerry (2000-2011)
9. 75 - Conor Gormley, Tyrone (2001-2014)
10. 73 - Brian Dooher, Tyrone (1995-2011)

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Kevin O'Brien

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