Long-serving Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton has been named the PwC Footballer of the Year for 2019 following the sky blues successful bid for five-in-a-row.
The Parnells club man was in top form for Jim Gavin’s side throughout the season, arguably his best campaign in a number of years, beating out teammates Con O’Callaghan and Jack McCaffrey to the gong.
Having represented Dublin since 2001, the six-time All-Ireland winning captain turns 38 in December and after playing such a vital role in securing a first-ever five-in-a-row, speculation is mounting as to whether or not the Parnells man will return for a new decade.
The newly crowned Footballer of the Year says a decision on his future won’t be made until January.
“We still haven’t finished this year. There’s still two months to go before I’ll maybe ask myself that question. It will probably be in January. I’ll obviously have to talk to Jim (Gavin) and see what part he wants me to play next year. He might not want me around and that would be completely fine with me. If he feels that the other two goalkeepers are ready then I’m absolutely ready to step away.
“If he thinks I have something more to offer, then I would probably need to have a good think about it because it’s not easy just to continue going. So, I probably won’t be asking myself that question until January.”
While the end may well be near for the seven-time All-Ireland winner, Cluxton feels that his goalkeeping has only gotten better with each passing year.
“I’ve tried to reflect on every year and I’ve tried to promise myself that I would be better the following year. Obviously there have been highs and lows throughout the years and throughout my career.
“And, you know, I still think when I look back over my years that I’ve probably been getting better and better. My coaching has improved as well and I think I’ve been more focused on goalkeeping than I have been over the years.”
Throughout 2019, Jim Gavin repeatedly put Cluxton’s sustained excellence down to his dedication to the craft of goalkeeping.
After securing a fifth successive All-Ireland title in September, Gavin told members of the media how Cluxton had been analysing the goal he conceded in the drawn All-Ireland final the morning after the game.
The PwC Footballer of the Year confirmed that was indeed the case while also, in typical Cluxton fashion, shouldering the blame for Killian Spillane’s goal
“Up to that point we were relatively comfortable and they just came hard at us. In fairness to Killian (Spillane), he stepped really hard off his right foot, came around, and planted it into the bottom corner.
“I just thought that at that point I could have done more to maybe come out and get closer to him. Or certainly, adjust my feet and try to make a save. I got probably caught flat-footed.
“So, yeah, the following morning I was out with the laptop with the two guys and obviously Josh Moran the goalkeeping coach and we were just trying to figure out what I could have done better, what I should have done better, and we maybe wouldn’t have had to play a replay. So I’ll blame myself for that one!”
Cluxton credits his competitiveness for keeping him at his best over the years while also giving a special mention to his two back-up goalkeepers’ Evan Comerford and Michael Shields.
The Dublin captain feels their hunger to get in the side has added a much-needed freshness to his game.
“I’m very competitive, I would have to say. Medals to the side, it’s about going out and trying to compete against the best. And that starts with trying to compete with the goalkeepers that are in Dublin.
“Evan (Comerford) and Michael (Shields) are phenomenal goalkeepers. They’re young and they’re hungry and probably brought a bit of freshness to me over the last number of years because they want the jersey and I want it too. There’s that bit of competitiveness to want to be the best.”