There are elements of Dublin that you can set your watch to. Stephen Cluxton’s omnipresence — tomorrow will mark his 101st league appearance for Dublin, his 192nd including Championship and his 24th consecutive start.
At 36 years of age, the captain has never held onto the No1 jersey tighter.
Brian Fenton’s record is another. Undoubtedly, there is so much more to the midfielder than mere good fortune but one defeat — last year’s Division 1 final reverse against Kerry — in almost three full years of league and Championship is the mark of a lucky general.
Consider too that he went five consecutive seasons unbeaten with Raheny at under-age level and it backs up the point.
And then there’s the phenom that is Ciarán Kilkenny, whose ability as a footballer has seen him transformed from an outstanding finisher at underage level to the capital’s conductor.
As he makes a 13th consecutive season start for Dublin tomorrow, we crunch the numbers on Dublin’s Mr Reliability’s career thus far:
Oddly enough for a man who has scored in 61% of his games for Dublin, in Kilkenny’s five All-Ireland final appearances he has yet to register a score.
His “point guard” role may be a reason behind that barren spell although there was Lee Keegan’s effective detail on him last year, which on the other hand underlined his importance.
He did score two points against Mayo in Castlebar two weeks ago but hasn’t scored in his last four Croke Park outings against them.
The number of Championship games Kilkenny has lost. As it turned out, it was his full SFC debut in the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo.
Because of his cruciate injury, he was marked absent for Dublin’s only SFC defeat since then, at the same stage of the competition at the hands of Donegal in 2014.
Also marks the number of occasions when Kilkenny has been on the receiving end of a defeat outside of Croke Park, the 2015 loss to Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium.
Kilkenny has been dismissed from the field twice, both last year in the closing stages of matches.
The first came in Austin Stack Park where he picked up a second yellow card for cynically halted the progress of a Kerry attack after Dublin had equalised in the fifth minute of additional time.
The second also came at the death in the All-Ireland final when he was shown a black card after Dean Rock had put Dublin a point up.
Not behaviour that be condoned but they were fouls as professional as they come.
Including the Tyrone league game in 2013 where he lasted less than six minutes as he sustained the season-ending cruciate injury, this is the amount of times Kilkenny has been on a losing Dublin team: the aforementioned 2017 Division 1 final and 2012 All-Ireland semi-final, the 2014 and ‘15 league defeats to Cork and Kerry respectively.
Like Jim Gavin and several of his team-mates, the 24-year-old has yet to experience a draw never mind a defeat in the Leinster SFC. Dublin’s winning record in the province extends to 2011 while Kilkenny’s goes back to 2014 and a stretch of 12 victories.
Like Brian Cody, Gavin’s substitution policy is ruthlessly obvious yet more than often determining
. If a player isn’t contributing or is flailing, he’s taken off.
Kilkenny has been on the field for the first throw-in and again at full-time for 23 of his 28 Championship appearances.
Kilkenny featured in all but two of Dublin’s unbeaten 36-game run from March 2015 to April ‘17, missing the ‘16 league win over Monaghan in Croke Park and ‘17 league defeat of Roscommon.
He started and finished 30 of the 34.
His season appearances since his debut in 2012, 34 of them in the league. He has started and finished 45 of the 62.
Kilkenny’s winning percentage in his Dublin career thus far — 51 victories, six draws and five defeats. His winning percentage in Championship is a stunning 89% and in the league it’s 76%.
The aggregate total Kilkenny has contributed to Dublin, 2-85, 0-4 coming from frees.
The goals have come recently, against Tyrone in Omagh last month and last year’s Leinster championship clash with Westmeath, which also saw him contribute his largest match tally of 1-3. Kilkenny has scored in all four of Dublin’s matches so far this season, totalling 1-8. His longest run without a score was four matches between 2015 and ’16 while he managed just one point in six Championship games two years ago. He has scored in 38 of his 62 matches.
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