Undisputed number one: Twenty years of Stephen Cluxton

The 39-year-old has played 8,161 minutes of championship football. That’s equivalent to just over 136 hours and represents 5.66 days
Undisputed number one: Twenty years of Stephen Cluxton

FIRST DAY IN THE OFFICE: Stephen Cluxton is tackled by Longford's Niall Sheridan in the 2001 Leinster SFC quarter-final at Croke Park. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

May 27th marks the 20th year anniversary of Stephen Cluxton’s senior championship debut for Dublin.

Replacing the injured Davy Byrne for the Leinster quarter-final against Longford, it would be the start of a career defined by longevity, leadership, and remarkable success.

For each of those years, a statistic to reflect an astonishing service:

  • Cluxton played alongside two of his future managers against Longford in Croke Park that day. Dessie Farrell was a starter and was replaced in the second half by Jim Gavin.
  • Of the Dublin team that day, Jason Sherlock was the last to retire from inter-county football 11 years ago. Ciarán Whelan, Colin Moran, and Shane Ryan, the latter two replacements against Longford, stepped away in 2009.
  • Of the Dublin minor team that reached the 2001 All-Ireland final, Bryan Cullen, now Dublin’s high performance manager, retired in January 2015.
  • Up to three years ago, Cluxton was the second longest-serving inter-county footballer after Fermanagh’s Ryan McCluskey who debuted a couple of weeks before him. Now he is out on his own, followed by Ross Munnelly who began his senior career with Laois in 2003.
  • When Cluxton debuted, the average price of a pint of milk was 84c and a pint of Guinness was €3.01.
  • Seán Bugler, Cluxton’s team-mate in December’s All-Ireland SFC final win over Mayo, was two when Cluxton was first between the sticks for Dublin in 2001. Oisín Mullin, who faced Cluxton in that game, was only born that year.
  • The Parnells man’s first 10 seasons with Dublin yielded six Leinster medals. His latter 10 have produced eight All-Irelands, 10 Leinsters and five NFL titles.
  • In the 2000s, he was on a losing team nine times. Between the 2010s and last year, he has been lost on just four occasions.
  • Cluxton has kept 64 championship clean sheets, almost 58% of his total SFC matches. No green flag was raised against him in last year’s Championship, the last goal scored against him was Killian Spillane’s piledriver in the drawn All-Ireland final against Kerry in 2019.
  • 41: The number of games since Dublin and Cluxton’s last SFC defeat, versus Donegal in 2014, a period which comprises almost 37% of his championship career.
  • It took him 55 games to win his first All-Ireland. In the subsequent 56, he has claimed
    seven.
  • With Cluxton as captain, Dublin have lost one championship game, the aforementioned tie against Donegal. That’s one loss in 52 SFC matches.
  • His last defeat in the Leinster SFC, against Meath 11 years ago, was also 29 provincial games ago.
  • All of Cluxton’s eight All-Irelands have come through the front door but he has won them in different formats — qualifiers (2011, ‘13, ‘15, ‘16, ‘17), Super 8s (2018, ‘19), and straight knockout (2020).
  • Cluxton has never lost a Championship game to the following 15 counties: Carlow, Cavan, Derry, Fermanagh, Galway, Longford, Louth, Kildare, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary, Westmeath, Wexford, and Wicklow. He has suffered SFC defeats to eight counties: Armagh (2), Cork (1), Donegal (1), Kerry (3), Laois (1), Mayo (2), Meath (1), and Tyrone (2).
  • The Dublin jersey has officially changed 11 times during Cluxton’s senior career. That’s excluding when the kit was altered for charity and commemoration events.
  • Cluxton has an 83.7% win rate in the championship — 93 wins, five draws, and 13 defeats.
  • The secondary school science teacher has seen off at least eight stand-in goalkeepers to be Dublin’s first-choice No. 1 — Davy Byrne, Paul Copeland, John Leonard, Shane Supple, Bryan Murphy, Michael Savage, Seán Currie, and currently Evan Comerford.
  • The All-Ireland final against Mayo last December was his 99th SFC appearance in Croke Park. The other 12 have come in Avantcard Páirc Seán MacDiarmada (1), Glennon Brothers Pearse Park (1), Healy Park (1), MW Hire O’Moore Park (5), Netwatch Cullen Park (1), Parnell Park (1), St Tiernach’s Park (1), and UPMC Nowlan Park (1).
  • Factoring in his 2003 sending off against Armagh, his serious injury against Longford 15 years later, extra-time against Wexford in 2010 and estimating four minutes of additional time per game, the 39-year-old has played 8,161 minutes of championship football. That’s equivalent to just over 136 hours and represents 5.66 days

- You can read the Irish Examiner's 20-page special publication looking forward to the Allianz Football League and Championship with your Friday edition of the Irish Examiner in stores or from our epaper site.

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