Tuesday 12 December 2017

Match-winning free came 'at ideal time' - Cluxton

Stephen Cluxton
Stephen Cluxton
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton has broken his silence about the dramatic last-minute free that clinched the Blues' first All-Ireland football title in 16 years.

He reveals that he believed his historic game-winning stoppage-time free that pipped Kerry came at "the ideal time".

Dublin's notoriously private goalkeeper, who rarely gives media interviews, has spoken publicly for the first time in 'A Rare Aul Season', a new photographic book to raise money for the Dubs' training and holiday funds, which is being launched today.

His comments confirm just how ferociously focused the Parnells star is, and how completely unpanicked he was by having the eyes of Gaelic games fans worldwide trained on him as he stepped up to the most important single kick in this year's championship.

"Management worked hard on steeling the players through the year," Cluxton said. "Games last for 70-odd minutes, it (the free) happened at the ideal time."

Asked if he was surprised to be called up to take it, or distracted in any way by the enormity of his task, he replied: "No, I was the designated free-taker.

"You go though your routine, nothing else matters. One free is just as important as the next."

This is the first time he has spoken about the famous day he became the first 'keeper in history to kick the All-Ireland winner.

And the man who played a non-speaking part as captain of the Irish team in last week's International Rules victory, actually insists no game he plays is more important than any other.

"I treat all games equally," the multiple All Star said.

"No one game is more important than any other. If we didn't treat the semi-final as important as the final, we wouldn't have been contesting the final.

"What Kerry did or didn't do cannot be thought about coming into the game," he added.

He also speaks of the philosophy behind Dublin's important short kick-out strategy, which he has helped to pioneer in Gaelic football.

"Kick-outs are not the sole responsibility of the goalkeeper, it involves the co-ordination of the defence and midfield to work," Cluxton insisted.

Further insight into his cool, calm presence is reflected in his comments about Kerry's 19th-minute goal in the final, which was only the third Dublin's defence had conceded last summer.

"Rocked? It didn't seem to me that it fazed anyone on the pitch," Cluxton said. "We went up the field and hit the next couple of points.

"Games take place over 70 minutes," he said. "If you are not focused for the 70 minutes, you don't win."

The book also contains interviews with super-sub Kevin McManamon, manager Pat Gilroy, captain Bryan Cullen and the Brogan brothers, Alan and Bernard.

Irish Independent

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