Gavin hands Cluxton captaincy
Dublin manager Jim Gavin surprised many observers on Saturday night in Croke Park by announcing goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton as county captain for the year ahead.
Although Cluxton has banked enough experience for the role, the public nature of the job is at odds with his famously private persona.
Indeed when he accompanied Gavin to the post-match press conference after Dublin’s 1-18 to 2-9 win over Cork, it was the first time most people outside of his circle had heard him speak.
“To be honest I just keep my head down and just try train as hard as I can. If Jim thinks that’s leadership then I’ll take it on my shoulders . . . But there are so many leaders in that dressing room there’s no need to have one particular one,” said Cluxton.
For Gavin, the appointment is in keeping with his understated reign with Dublin. Cluxton has long been regarded as a pillar of strength and a big influence through the use of his excellent kick-outs. Take away his avowed reticence in dealing with the media and this was the logical step for the 31-year-old.
“Stephen is an outstanding football player, an outstanding athlete and an exemplary individual,” said Gavin. “He sets the highest standards for himself and for those around him. That’s what I’m looking for in a captain . . . The team is full of leaders . . . Just for me Stephen is the guy who is a standard bearer for the football team.”
Cluxton was previously the captain of the Ireland International Rules squad that travelled to Australia in 2011. On that occasion, he handed off the media side of the job to Armagh defender Ciarán McKeever.
Cluxton played down his role as a leader when asked about it on Saturday.
“The International Rules, the lads that were there were all the best footballers in their county so they are leaders themselves,” he said. “I’m only learning . . . Jim is going to guide me . . . If he thinks I need to buck up on things then so be it.”
He said he was delighted to have been named captain, while admitting that the prospect of having to get more involved with the public side of things gave him pause when the opportunity came up.
“I had a good think about it, you know, and Jim assured me of my role so I was happy enough to take it on board.”
Dublin sit at the top of the Allianz League Division One standings after the first weekend of games, albeit only by virtue of points scored. Alongside them are Mayo, who opened their campaign yesterday with an impressive 0-15 to 1-6 win over Kerry.
James Horan’s side held a young and unfamiliar Kerry team scoreless in the second half to close out an impressive victory. Mayo go into the second round of games level with Tyrone and Kildare, who beat Down and Donegal on Saturday night.
In Division Two, Laois’s Saturday night win over Armagh was matched yesterday by victories for Westmeath over Louth, Wexford over Longford and Galway over Derry.