Cluxton will conquer fears to fly Ireland flag
Published 27/09/2011 | 05:00
Stephen Cluxton is ready to overcome his fear of flying to play for Ireland in the forthcoming International Rules series in Australia.
Dublin's All-Ireland final match-winner has committed himself to an away series for the first time and was the only member of the newly crowned All-Ireland champions present at training on Saturday morning.
Cluxton was the first man to Irish training in DCU as the squad continued its preparations for the two-Test series at the end of next month.
The long-serving goalkeeper had missed the Dublin squad's appearance on 'The Late Late Show' on Friday night, once again shunning the spotlight he abhors.
Cluxton ruled himself out of previous International Rules Tests in Australia in 2003, '05 and '08 because of his dislike of flying.
The journey to the other side of the world has not been something he has been willing to put himself through, until now.
He has however been part of Irish squads in '02, '04 and 2010, when the series was played on home soil.
All-Ireland champions Dublin will be hard-pressed to have much representation because of the chaotic state of their club football championships.
With the Leinster Council preparing to delay the involvement of the Dublin champions for three weeks at their meeting tomorrow night, it would be difficult to make a case for International Rules involvement adding any further delays.
Three years ago, Dublin attacker Bernard Brogan had to forego a trip to Australia for the series because of his involvement in the Dublin club final with St Oliver Plunketts/ Eoghan Ruadh.
Tommy Walsh, home from Australia for a few weeks, also linked up with the Irish squad for the first time on Saturday morning.
The Kerry native is one of four AFL-based players whom the Rules management are understood to have in mind for the series. Longford's Michael Quinn, on the books of Essendon, has trained with the squad in recent weeks, while Pearse Hanley and Tadhg Kennelly are also to be sounded out about their possible interest.
Two former AFL recruits, Carlow's Brendan Murphy and Colm Begley from Laois, are also on the shortlist to make the trip. However, Down's Martin Clarke may not be part of Irish plans for the Tests in Melbourne and Gold Coast.
Clarke is preparing to head back down to Australia in the coming weeks to resume his AFL career after two years at home. The identity of the club he is returning to is not yet confirmed.
Donegal's Neil McGee is one of those who has made an impact in preparations recently, while Cork dual star Eoin Cadogan also looks like he'll make the squad for the first time.
There were no representatives from Kerry, aside from Walsh, last weekend but there is hope that leading lights Kieran Donaghy, Darran O'Sullivan and possibly Declan O'Sullivan will make themselves available in the coming weeks.
Apart from their AFL-based players there were no representatives from Kerry on the 2010 squad.
Ireland manager Anthony Tohill has brought in Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney as a coach with particular emphasis on defence, but they will be without former captain Sean Cavanagh and Mayo's Andy Moran, who both picked up serious injuries in recent weeks.
Cavanagh damaged his shoulder when weight training some weeks ago, and Moran fractured a leg at training in Parnell Park last week.
The Irish squad will meet up in Carton House, Maynooth, this weekend for a training camp, and the squad will then be reduced to 23 the following week.