Cluxton the lone Dublin star on Rules panel

DUBLIN may be the All-Ireland champions and favourites to claim the majority of All Stars but a fixtures backlog on the club scene has put a halt to ambitions of dominating the International Rules team.

Stephen Cluxton is their only player to be named on Anthony Tohill’s provisional 31-man training panel, which is due to be culled to 23 next Thursday.

With 15 counties represented, the squad also includes four players plying their trade Down Under, in Tadhg Kennelly, Pearse Hanley, Michael Quinn and Chrissy McKaigue.

“We are very happy with the panel that has been assembled and with the mood within the squad,” said Tohill.

“A number of other players were approached to join the training panel but were unable to do so due to injury and other commitments. The selectors and I are working our way through the difficult job of cutting the training panel to the required number of 23. Players not selected in the final 23 will be on standby.”

Meanwhile the draws for the 2012 hurling and football championships take place tonight at Croke Park (RTÉ Two, 8pm) and Darran O’Sullivan, who is named on the training panel, hopes every one of this year’s Kerry panel will be fit and ready next May.

Both Jack O’Connor and Marc Ó Sé said after the All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin that retirements were probable and word will be eagerly awaited from Tomás Ó Sé, his brother Marc, Tom O’Sullivan and Aidan O’Mahony.

“People talk about ages, 31 or 32,” said Darran, “but sure look at the rugby fellas. They’re taking serious belts, every week so I don’t really see the issue. Look at some of our older players. Tom O’Sullivan. Biggest day of the year and again another cracking game. Marc Ó Sé, Tomás — these fellas come back year after year.

“I have so much respect for them because of what they do. The bigger the day, they bigger they play so I’d hope that they’d all stay on and that’s it. In my eyes they’ve plenty of legs left. I see them in training every day and I know what they’re able for.

“It would be nice too for some of the younger lads to put pressure on them which they probably will. I’ve been chatting to fellas, but you try to talk about anything but that. It’s not the time of year for that talk.

“They’ve been around so long and I just think some of them will be too proud to leave it on a defeat and hopefully we’ll have the full compliment back again.”

Two and a half weeks have slipped by since the All-Ireland. O’Sullivan took a fortnight off afterwards and skipped town for most of it, thankful of the opportunity to escape the commiserations and conversations.

He tried to look at the game last week but found it too raw. Too early. He hasn’t even watched the final defeat to Tyrone in 2008 and if anything this one was even harder to swallow given the dramatic turnaround towards the end.

“In all my experience with Kerry, the one thing we’ve always been good at it closing out leads. Or if we’re down a couple of points with 10 minutes to go we’re always confident we’ll work a score. For whatever reason on the day, I don’t know, did we get ahead of ourselves?

“We let it slip but you have to give Dublin credit. They worked hard, pulled us back, got a good goal. And what can you say about Cluxton’s kick? That took nerves of steel.”

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