By Brendan O’Brien
Jim Gavin is refusing to rule Stephen Cluxton out of this Sunday’s Leinster football final against Laois.
Publicly, at least.
The Dublin goalkeeper and skipper had to leave the field with an injury shortly after being challenged in the air by Longford’s James McGivney during the provincial semi-final two weekends ago.
Described by the manager after the game as a lower back injury, it was later said to be a rib issue. Gavin didn’t offer any greater detail on that on Tuesday morning, preferring instead to deal in vague responses to the queries made.
Gavin was also asked if the custodian had trained with the squad of late and replied by saying that “he has been out with us”. He followed it up with praise for the veteran’s mental strength and determination.”
That may be but the word on the streets of the capital is that Cluxton hasn’t a prayer of being involved. If that is the case then it will be the first time since 2004 that he hasn’t started a championship game for his county.
Quite the run.
Evan Comerford deputised for him the last day in what was an easy ride for the Ballymun Kickhams player against a Longford side reduced to 14 men due to McGiveny’s dismissal for his part in Cluxton’s demise.
Longford never pushed up on the Dublin kickouts and didn’t manufacture a single shot that required the deputy's intervention either. Laois will hardly offer such an easy ride to a young keeper who only made his senior club debut last year.
“We've given other goalkeepers opportunities to deal with as well," said Gavin.
"Evan would have played two league games as well this year, did very, very well. He's been consistently there and that's a testament to his determination for his sport.