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Tohill's calm over Cluxton

JUST when you thought Stephen Cluxton's year couldn't possibly be more eventful, Dublin's All-Ireland final hero is named captain of his country.

International Rules manager Anthony Tohill's decision to honour Dublin's custodian with the armband seems fitting in a season when his on-field leadership culminated in Dublin's first Sam Maguire success in 16 years, although doubts over his availability persist.

Tohill was coy about the possibility of Cluxton's participation when it came into question at yesterday's announcement of the 18 players who will definitely board the plane to Australia, a number which will be increased to 23 early next week.

If, for instance, Parnell's qualify for the semi-final of the championship, he would not be able to travel unless that round of club matches were postponed.

And as the Dublin championship has already been badly held up and rescheduled, it seems unlikely such an arrangement could be accommodated.

"To be honest, we haven't had that conversation because the situation has not arisen yet," Tohill said.

"There is this weekend he's playing. There is the following weekend and then we go (to Australia). So there is an opportunity to play a round of the championship if he is still involved.

"We are only going for two weekends so if there is an issue then, there is no doubt that the will will be there to have that matter resolved."

Given that Tohill has not named a standby 'keeper, it appears he is confident that Cluxton will be on the plane come what may. However, he accepted the decision of some of Cluxton's Dublin team-mates to spurn his advances on the basis of their own club involvement.

"There are a number of players we would have looked at and contacted," he confirmed. "Stephen took one approach to it and other players took a different approach to it.

"I suppose with club commitments, some players felt that they were going to be in it over a longer period of time and weren't able to commit to it.


"Stephen Cluxton was there at training on the Saturday morning after the All-Ireland. He was at a wedding in Carton House Friday week ago and he came out of the wedding to train with us before going back into the wedding. His commitment has been phenomenal. His appetite for the game is unbelievable.

"Bernard and Alan (Brogan) and a number of other players as well would liked to have played. In other circumstances they may have played. But it is a very difficult situation for players because they are under immense pressures from club managers not to play with us and not to train with us.

"I'm not saying that's the situation in that particular scenario," he added. "But some players decided that they were not going to be able to play so they are not going to come up at all. That's fine. That was their choice."

As for the series itself, Tohill rubbished suggestions that last year's installment lacked the necessary entertainment factor for the experiment to maintain its current level of interest.

Specifically, the Derry native noted that the violence which threatened its very existence has been eradicated and with it went the more blood-thirsty element for spectators.

"The game has evolved," he said. "The hard-nosed aggression has come out of the game and I think, in a perverse way, that was one of the attractions of the game. Maybe that's why people are confused -- because they're not seeing that end of it.

"They think that is what you have to see to enjoy the game. But 60,000 people in Croke Park is not a bad crowd. We will endeavour to play a good hard sporting game within the rules and we will play to win.

"But to win, you have to have a certain amount of flair or creativity.

"I don't think the entertainment is a big issue at this moment in time. The bigger issue would be if one side were to get too dominant in the series. That would be a great threat to it," he added.