Saturday 25 January 2020

Solid Rock makes it 59 not out as three-year ever-present for Dubs

Rock: Tough early years. Photo: Sportsfile
Rock: Tough early years. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Considering he was let go from the Dublin panel in 2012, it might come as a surprise that Dean Rock is Dublin's most deployed asset over the past number of seasons.

The Ballymun Kickhams man didn't have it all his own way at the start of his county career as he struggled to impress Pat Gilroy sufficiently and picked up some nasty injuries along the way. But now that Rock has settled in, he's front and centre of Jim Gavin's plans.

Rock has now featured in 59 successive games across league and championship as Dublin have hoovered up titles and records. That run stretches back to the start of the summer of 2014 when Dublin kicked off their summer with a win over Laois and runs to last month's league title win.

Of those 59 appearances, only seven were off the bench. From 2015, onwards his record is even more impressive.

He played every game that season, including the O'Byrne Cup. Since then he has started every championship game up to the 2017 All-Ireland final and came off the bench in league matches against Cork and Donegal in 2016 and Donegal this year.

"There are always make-or-break moments in your career," he said of his axing in 2012. "I was let go from the Dublin senior panel. That was the time I could have just thrown up the boots and said, 'Ah, it's not for me.'

"But I went back and trained really hard under Paul Curran and managed to win a county championship that year. Once the All-Ireland series was finished, I was then with Jim in 2013 and never really looked back since then.

"Certainly, there was tough times in your career as a teenager and in your early 20s, you know you really just gotta knuckle down in those tough times. Thankfully, I did. I've had a good career to date."

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Rock insists he never lost faith that he could feature regularly for Dublin.

"I think that's the advice that you would give to younger guys or guys on the minor team that might think it's a bit too far of a step to break into the senior panel.

"It's just there for everyone to achieve if you are willing to put in the work and willing to be mentally strong through those tough times you will certainly make the breakthrough and there will be lots of opportunities when playing your club games to impress Jim or whoever it is as Dublin manager in years to come.

"I would have pictured these days as a kid throughout my whole life, so I certainly would have thought (I) was capable ... because even through those tough times at the end of that year, I had mentally steeled myself that I knew that I was going to play with Dublin eventually."

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