Dublin Keeper Stephen Cluxton will join former keeper John O’Leary with the most appearances in a Dublin Shirt, should he start against Tyrone tomorrow night.
There’s much talk about the enticing fixture between Dublin and Tyrone tomorrow as the Dubs make the trip to Healy Park for the second phase of the new All Ireland Super 8 Series.
Many fans, pundits and sports writers have spent the past week recalling memories of these two sides’ clashes in both League and Championship over the past number of decades.
Their first Championship game in ’84 when Tyrone used the pitch area in front of Hill 16 to warm up. The 1995 All Ireland Final, where Dublin finally found their way out of the football wilderness after twelve long years to snatch Sam Maguire. The Battle Of Omagh in 2006 where the game will be remembered more for scraps, handbags and red cards than anything else in relation to football.
But aside from Dublin hoping to get out of Omagh with a victory tomorrow, the game itself holds another significance to Dublin GAA as current keeper Stephen Cluxton reaches another milestone in his much medalled career in the blue jersey.
Between League and Championship appearances, Cluxton has notched a whopping 196 games since his debut in 2001. For anyone in the know that’s one game less than former Dublin Captain and Goalkeeper John O’Leary.
O’Dwyer’s clubman O’Leary made his Championship debut in 1980 against Offaly in the Leinster Final. In seventeen years as a Dublin player, John won three National League titles, eight Leinster Championship medals and two All Ireland’s in 1983 and 1995. Like Cluxton, O’Leary had the honour of captaining Dublin in 1995 to All Ireland Glory.
Of the 197 games O’Leary played in up to retiring in 1997 at the age of 36, 70 of those games were in the Championship and 102 of them were National League fixtures.
With Dublin’s continued success over the last number of years, Cluxton Championship tally supersedes O’Leary’s on 94 games. His League haul currently stands at 102 appearances.
Stephen Cluxton is 37, a year older than O’Leary was when he hung up the keepers gloves, but it doesn’t look like Cluxton is on the move anytime soon. And that will hopefully see him step into pole position before the end of this year.
What Lies Ahead
Should Dublin advance from the Super 8’s with two games to go, and then contest both an All Ireland Semi Final and Final, it would surely be monumental Cluxton climb the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift Sam Maguire, on his 200th appearance for Dublin. Let’s not ignore the fact that it would also be Dublin’s fourth consecutive All Ireland, a fete that hasn’t been achieved since the Kerry team that did it between 1978 and 1981.
Another achievement both Cluxton and O’Leary share is both have won five All Star Awards in their 17 year careers between the posts, with many believing that Cluxton should have picked up a few more along the way.
Should tomorrow roll around and Stephen Cluxton is named at Number 1, which is very likely, short of a natural disaster, we’re sure the Dublin fans who make the trip over the border will let the Parnells Keeper know just how much the past seventeen years and 197 appearances has meant to them