Ballymun Marksman Dean Rock finishes All Ireland comfortably back in the starting line up

Dean Rock in Championship action last year

Watching Dean Rock stand over a dead ball in the closing moments of an All Ireland Football Final has become something all too familiar in the last five year.

In 2017, the Ballymun star converted that all famous, GPS tainted, score. Two weeks ago fans agonisingly watched as his kick from the hardest of angles drifted just wide of the uprights.

And again, poetically, it was Dean who was closed out the game with the final score. as Dublin emphatically clinched an historical fifth All Ireland title. Rock has been integral in Dublin’s last five all Ireland wins. His dead ball antics have pulled results out of the bag for many years. But to convert dead ball chances, you have to be rewarded them. On Saturday over almost 75 minutes, Dublin were awarded 1 ’45.

“It was the only one we got all day.” Dean told after the game.

“Usually you’d get at least six or seven a game but look I suppose Kerry were disciplined in their tackling and the referee let the advantage play a little bit as well which helped.”

Like the rest of the Dublin front six, Dean spent his time away from frees elsewhere, tracking markers, aiding turnovers. generally covering a hug amount of the Croke Park surface.

“I chipped in from play, got two from play. The boys stood up in fairness today, Ciaran, Con and Mannion. They scored 0-12 between them from play which is phenomenal scoring.

“You’re just there to do your job, add a little bit to the game going forward. Eoin Murchan’s goal was critical, we got our noses in front and we never let up then to the end.”

Rock prolific not just in Finals

Dean’s used to this though, and since finishing the 2015 as joint top scorer along with Paul Flynn and Bernard Brogan, he has become Dublin’s leading marksman in finals up to the drawn game this year.

That game saw him ship ten points, seven of which from dead ball opportunities. When he hit the fifth score he overtook Bernard Brogan as Dublin second most prolific scorer in Dublin’s football history. And after Saturday’s replay, his three points close the gap between him and Dublin legends Jimmy Keaveney to 31 scores.

Dean won’t dwell on the missed free at the end of the first game. And no one would blame him.

“I’d say I’ve never practiced a kick like that in all my life, it was a shot at nothing.”

“You’re on the tarmac stuff there. The equalising score was obviously the most important and we were just lucky to get over the line and get another chance at it after obviously the red card on the first day.”

The end was better than the beginning for Dean

This Championship has certainly ended better than it began for Dean. He suffered a hamstring injury that saw him have to sit out the early part of the summer. Cormac Costello ably stepped into his boots. Dean crept his way back into form as a sub again Meath and Cork, before starting against Roscommon. And against the Rossies his 1-11 helped him keep that starting role to finish out the championship.

And with the five in a row now secured, Dean is happy to be involved.

“It’s something I’m sure we’ll look back on in years to come that we are the team to have done the five in a row, something that’s never been done before and that’s kind of cool.”

“Great celebrations in the dressing-room there with the lads and the backroom team and everyone has put in so much effort and work over the last 12 months really. Special times.”

“There’s some guys there winning their first All-Ireland, there’s some guys winning their second or third. There is a few of us who have won the five-in-a-row which is an incredible achievement for the group to have that continued success.”

Dean Rock’s Five Year All Ireland Final Record

2015: vs Kerry – 0-02 (2f)
2016: vs Mayo – 0-04 (3f), Replay 0-09 (7f)
2017: vs Mayo – 0-07 (3f)
2018: vs Tyrone – 0-07 (3f, 1 ’45)
2019: vs Kerry 0-10 (6f, 1 ’45), Replay 0-03 (1 ’45)