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'I broke three bones in my back, a punctured lung, and had cartilage damage in my shoulder' - Cluxton

The newly crowned Footballer of the Year recalls a horrific injury he sustained in 2018.

Dublin footballer Stephen Cluxton with his PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year award at the PwC All-Star Awards 2019 at the Convention Centre in Dublin.
Dublin footballer Stephen Cluxton with his PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Year award at the PwC All-Star Awards 2019 at the Convention Centre in Dublin.
Image: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

DUBLIN GOALKEEPER STEPHEN Cluxton has explained the extensive injuries he suffered during a Leinster SFC semi-final in 2018.

The newly crowned Footballer of the Year was withdrawn from his side’s victory over Longford following an aerial collision with James McGivney, which sent Cluxton flying to the surface in Croke Park. 

The Longford forward was sent off following the incident, while the Dublin captain was brought to hospital with what was thought to be a “blow to the lower back” at the time.

Cluxton returned in time for Dublin’s Super 8s campaign later that year, but he had to face a lengthy recovery after sustaining a few serious injuries in that game against Longford.

I broke three bones in my back, had a punctured lung, and I had cartilage damage in my shoulder,” he recalls at the 2019 All-Star awards.

“I still have dodgy ankles from a long time ago. So it was a struggle to try to get back up to the level I wanted.

“I thought I had gotten up to a really good level up to the Longford game. I actually thought it was the best I had been in terms of my standard in training. I was actually making saves instead of picking the ball out of the net more often than not.

stephen-cluxton-is-fouled-by-james-mcgivney James McGivney and Stephen Cluxton in 2018 Leinster SFC semi-final. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“Yeah, when I got the injuries then it just curtailed all the training and it leads to doubts in my mind then as to my ability at the standard that I want to be at and whether or not it will cost the team in the end. Thankfully the guys got us over the line last year.

Then I had to spend five months rehabbing up to maybe February of this year.

“I wasn’t really sure then as to whether or not I’d have the grá and the hunger for it because Evan [Comerford] was playing so well in the League. I felt maybe it was his turn to go. But, in fairness, the guys coaxed me back to do another year and I’m delighted I did it in the end, to be honest.”

Cluxton, who captained Dublin to an unprecedented five-in-a-row this year, made his senior debut for Dublin in 2001 against Longford at the age of 19.

Now at 37, the Parnells man has surpassed several individual records on the way to collecting his seventh Celtic Cross.

It was a historic year for Dublin and as the 2020 season draws near, Cluxton says he will consider his inter-county future in January.

It’s a tough question, I suppose. We still haven’t finished this year. There’s still two months to go before I’ll maybe ask myself that question. It will probably be in January.

“I’ll obviously have to talk to Jim and see what part he wants me to play next year. He might not want me around and that would be completely fine with me. If he feels that the other two goalkeepers are ready then I’m absolutely ready to step away.

“If he thinks I have something more to offer, then I would probably need to have a good think about it because it’s not easy just to continue going. So, I probably won’t be asking myself that question until January.”

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