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'He is Dublin's most influential player' | Kyle Coney on Stephen Cluxton

Stephen Cluxton was vital to Dublin’s success, however former Tyrone footballer Kyle Coney does...



Football

'He is Dublin's most influential player' | Kyle Coney on Stephen Cluxton

Stephen Cluxton was vital to Dublin’s success, however former Tyrone footballer Kyle Coney does not see him coming back to the defending All-Ireland champions.

Speculation around whether or not Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton has retired has been on-going, ever since the All-Ireland final last year.

Even as recently as Sunday night, Dublin manager Dessie Farrell could not give a definitive answer as to what the eight-time All-Ireland winner is planning for his future.

While he knows just how important Cluxton has been for the Dubs in their ten year run of domination in football, Coney doubts that Cluxton would walk into the defending champs’ starting XV if it turns out that he has not retired.

Speaking on Monday’s OTB AM, Coney discussed the ongoing speculation around the 39-year-old ‘keeper.

“Going by Dessie [Farrell] yesterday after the game, we were hoping for a bit more closure on the situation,” Coney said.

“I suppose things are really up in the air; nobody seems know. Stephen obviously doesn’t know himself if he wants to rejoin the fold.

“At this stage, with the championship being only eight weeks long, he is going to have to know in a very short space of time.”

Coney believes that Cluxton has been the most important player for the Dubs throughout his career, meaning that they will be feeling his retirement most of all, out of the large number of players that retired after their last All-Ireland victory.

“We know how important Stephen is to Dublin,” Coney said. “You move, and he’ll find you, so he is vital to every single restart that Dublin have; he sets every score up realistically.

“He is the man that starts it all, and he is probably their most influential player, and their most important player.”

Would Cluxton come straight back in?

Despite suggesting that Cluxton is Dublin’s most important player, Coney does not believe that he will be a guaranteed starter if he does return for the championship.

“You are not going to bring him back in and start him, because I think that demoralises the team,” Coney said.

“I think that demoralises the whole point of the unit. What Dublin will be pushing is that this is a team effort.

“Everyone puts in the same amount of effort, you put in the extra hours. I just can’t see him being brought back in, and I can’t see him back starting.

“If things were a normal season, you could probably give him two or three games in the Leinster Championship to see where he is at if he was coming back.

“With eight weeks, it is a short space of time. Personally I don’t see him coming back, and I think it would demoralise the whole group if he came back and was given a starting jersey.”

Coney Cluxton Dublin

Now or never to catch the Dubs?

Without Cluxton in the side, Coney stopped short of saying that it is a now-or-never scenario to beat the Dubs, but suggested that Dublin are not at the same level as they have been over the last decade.

“You have taken an awful lot of big names out, you have taken an awful lot of All-Ireland medals out,” Coney said.

“I do believe that this Dublin team are more beatable than they were a few years ago. There is a chance for other teams to close the gap; the Kerrys, the Mayos, Tyrone and even Donegal.

“There are players coming in probably not at the same calibre as the players that they are replacing, and I do think they are more catchable now.”

Coney believes that the other teams in the championship now have a chance at beating the Dubs.

“Teams have a chance now,” Coney said. “I don’t think they are at the same level that they have been, and Stephen Cluxton is massive.

“I don’t think Dublin have a real kickout strategy; Cluxton’s plan was ‘you move and I’ll find you’, that is how good he is.”

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All-ireland Dublin Dublin GAA Football Kerry Kyle Coney Mayo Stephen Cluxton Tyrone