Dean Rock: Stephen Cluxton will take new kicking rules in his stride

Dean Rock envisages Stephen Cluxton will take the new 20-metre kick-out rule in his stride when All-Ireland champions Dublin begin their 2018 season next month.

Despite opposition from Dublin at Special Congress in October, delegates voted to introduce a rule that all restarts must pass the 20m line. Kick-outs already had to be at least 13m in length.

Cluxton is known for his quick, short restarts and it had been interpreted in some quarters of the capital that the recommendation from the playing rules committee was aimed at negating the strength in his play. At Special Congress, Dublin delegate Mick Seavers argued that the proposal would limit the amount of space a goalkeeper would have to kick into.

However, analysis showed that of Cluxton’s 96 kick-outs in this year’s championship up to the All-Ireland semi-final, only three times did he fail to kick the ball beyond the 20m line. Rock doesn’t see it affecting the veteran goalkeeper too much.

“It’s just a new rule change. When it was announced, I hadn’t really a notion because I wouldn’t really be thinking too much in terms of goalkeeping stuff. I suppose it’s a new rule, the game is evolving, GAA is evolving as a whole and this is just a new change.

“It’s something that will become the norm through the National League… I don’t think it’s going to massively affect the game, or affect Stephen in any way or Evan [Comerford] or whoever is in goals for us. It’s part of that evolution and we’ll just adapt and go with it.”

Rock doesn’t see the rule as being a precursor to all kick-outs having to pass the 45m line, as is the case in international rules.

“I don’t know if it will ever get to that stage. I think the mark rule has been quite good. At the time of that, people were saying, ‘I don’t know how good it’s going to be or how effective it’s going to be?’ but I think that’s been a good development for the GAA.

“That’s worked at both club and county level. I’m sure this will have the same effect, but I don’t know if it will ever get to that stage in terms of having to kick outside the ‘45’, but who knows? Maybe those on committees and [GAA president-elect] John Horan and stuff, might have things they want to change, but I think the game is perfect at the minute.”

As was the case this year, Dublin will be fielding an experimental team in next month’s O’Byrne Cup, as the likes of Rock will be on the team holiday. It was well known Dublin tapered their training until after the league and a similar schedule could be followed in 2018.

Rock felt Dublin physically peaked better this past season than 2016.

“I think we got it right from a personally development or physical development perspective with Bryan Cullen. We timed our run pretty well. It was no harm going on our holiday a bit later last year, but ultimately the objective was to get to September and to peak and perform in September.

“I certainly felt from my own individual perspective a lot fresher at the end of the season than I did the previous season. That’s just learning, the games were quite intense in 2016 and we had a replay that year as well, but certainly I think we timed our run a lot better this year and training and all was tailored towards that, which was great that it eventually came off then.”

Dublin won’t find out the venue of their opening Leinster clash against Offaly or Wicklow for some time yet, but the expectation is it will be played outside Croke Park. The first-day provincial trips to Kilkenny and Portlaoise have hardly upset Dublin and, with the Super 8 in mind, Rock is intrigued about the possibility of going to Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh, where his father Barney starred in the 1983 All-Ireland semi-final replay against Cork.

“As players, we all love going on the road, because it gives us more time as a group together. So, we love going on our National League trips, a Saturday evening or a Sunday. The away trips are something that certainly we welcome as a group. It is nice to play in different venues, because, although it’s great to play in Croke Park and it’s an amazing place to play football, it is nice to go outside Dublin and experience playing football, and we’d love the opportunity to play in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, or Thurles or wherever the case may be going forward, because as a footballer you don’t get to experience those venues too often.”

Dean Rock and Aidan Harte were speaking at the launch of the GAA’s Future Leaders Transition Year Programme in Croke Park. For more information, see learning.gaa.ie/transitionyearprogramme


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