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Is Cluxton a revolutionary goalkeeper? - Paddy O'Rourke thinks so

Meath’s netminder has hailed his Dublin counterpart.

Stephen Cluxton He (Cluxton) is the bench mark

STEPHEN CLUXTON HAS been hailed a revolutionary goalkeeper by a most unlikely source – Meath net minder Paddy O’Rourke.

Royal County players and Dubs normally regard themselves as the best of enemies and will meet if they both win their Leinster semi-final ties this Sunday.

But ahead of Meath’s Croke Park showdown with Kildare, Royals number one O’Rourke praised Cluxton as the man who has turned goalkeeping into an art form.

O’Rourke admitted that when he kept goals back in the 2009 All-Ireland semi-finals, his job was simply to save shots and boot kick outs as far as he could.

“I think Nigel Crawford and Brian Meade were at midfield,” said O’Rourke. “It was a case of, ‘okay, they’ll stand 70 yards away and I’ll put it on top of their heads’. It’s definitely changed a lot in the last couple of years.

“He (Cluxton) is the bench mark. Being at the Dublin/Laois game, the ball would go wide or over the bar and the next thing there’s a ball thrown out, it’s down and on a tee and kicked out straight away.

“Whether it’s a 15 metre kick to a lad free or whether it’s a 65 metre kick over the midfielders to Diarmuid Connolly or Paul Flynn running into space, he’s just deadly accurate. You can see all the work that goes in behind the scenes with him.”

Paddy O'Rourke with Eoghan O'Gara and Diramuid Connolly Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

There was a time when O’Rourke was a goalkeeper’s nightmare. Just three years ago, he played at full-forward against Kildare in the Leinster championship and top scored for Meath.

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The outfield selection came on the back of his county championship heroics with Skryne though it didn’t last long, something he’s thankful for.

“When I was playing outfield with Meath, it really got to me about the pressures involved,” admitted the Dundalk IT student union official. “You’d always have the bit of nerves that there’d be people saying, ‘he’s not up to it, he’s not good enough, he’s only a goalkeeper’. That sort of thing.

“I wasn’t fully focused or driven in one certain position. That’s why I kind of doubted myself whether I was good enough to be playing at that county standard. It was fairly evident that I was just a little bit off when I did play outfield.”

Paddy O'Rourke under pressure from Hugh McGrillen Source: Cathal Noonan

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Paul Keane

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