Wednesday 15 August 2018

I feared I’d just end up as a good club player – Dean Rock

Complacency not a major risk for star Dubs forward after early setbacks

Dublin footballer Dean Rock and Dublin ladies footballer Ciara Trant at the Future Leaders Transition Year Programme launch at Croke Park. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Dublin footballer Dean Rock and Dublin ladies footballer Ciara Trant at the Future Leaders Transition Year Programme launch at Croke Park. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

There must be a part of them that expects it to be like this forever. If you enjoy the success that Dublin have then there must be a part of the mind that gets lazy or starts taking it all for granted.

Surely at some stage the fire must go out?

But put it to Dean Rock that they will somehow have less desire than everyone else next year and he'll tell you that's not how it works for this Dublin side.

These are good times to be involved with Dublin football. The best of times. But the glory days are not infinite.

Rock insists everyone involved accepts that. For now, it's about winning what they can while they can.

Sharp

Rock has his own experiences to draw on to keep him sharp. He was a sub in 2009 when Kerry hammered them at the quarter-final stage.

All-Ireland glory must have felt as far away as ever that day. And he wasn't even on the panel when they made the breakthrough two years later.

"I had stints in the Dublin team… I was down in 2009 when Kerry beat us, I was on the bench that day. And then 2010 I was on the panel and then I was gone. And then in 2012 I was dropped from the panel.

"So yeah, there were obviously times where you doubted yourself and said, 'Look, maybe I'm not going to represent the Dublin senior team; I've represented Dublin U-21s and won an All-Ireland, but maybe I'll just be a good club player'. 

"But I suppose I was always quite determined and always had a huge amount of self-belief, that one day I eventually would get there.

"There's no secret ingredient. I just genuinely worked very, very hard and I busted my balls in the gym, and off the field. And any opportunity I got then to play with Dublin, from 2013 onwards, I took with both hands."

Rock is part of the furniture now. When Gavin sits down to pick his team-sheet Rock is one of the first names on it. He was always an asset as a free-taker but there's much more to him from play these days too.  

Having been forced to bide his time in the early part of his career, he's eager to make every chance count.

Rock is still just 27 but the retirement of Denis Bastick (36) brought home to the group that the last day out is coming for everyone.

"It's very special. We're in a special time for Dublin GAA and we acknowledge that and understand that.

"We're very successful at the moment. It is quite difficult for Denis. At Denis's age, he still found it hard to eventually walk away.

"It's a huge part of your life now gone, though you have your club to go back to and stuff like that.

"You develop such a strong bond with the lads over the last number of years.

"We're a very close-knit group and it will be hard not to have him there.

"We'll certainly notice an empty space in the corner of the dressing-room. It is a hard thing to walk away from.

"But hopefully, I won't have to do that for another number of years."

Irish Independent

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