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safe hands The astonishing numbers behind Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton's 19-year championship career

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Cluxton will play his 111th championship game in next Saturday’s football final

Cluxton will play his 111th championship game in next Saturday’s football final

SPORTSFILE

Cluxton will play his 111th championship game in next Saturday’s football final

Stephen Cluxton has no more records to break.

Having become the first hurler or footballer to make 100 appearances last summer, Cluxton is set to play his 111th championship game for Dublin in next Saturday’s All-Ireland final.

He has rewritten the goalkeeping manual, turning the position into one of the most significant on the field, as the precision of his restarts has effectively transformed him into a GAA version of an American Football quarterback.

Others have tried to copy his approach – but, so far, none have surpassed him.

He has kept a remarkable 63 clean sheets and is one game away from completing a first-ever championship season without conceding a goal.

Indeed, he has only conceded 64 championship goals – and the only player to have scored more than three goals in championship football against him is former Wexford player Redmond Barry (see table right).

Cluxton’s football exploits will be remembered forever. Next Thursday he celebrates his 39th birthday, and, if the bookies’ forecasts are correct, 48 hours later he will be celebrating captaining Dublin to a sixth All-Ireland final win in a row and collecting a record-equalling eighth All-Ireland medal.

According to author Gerry Callan, Cluxton – a science teacher in his alma mater St David’s in Artane – first wore the Dublin jersey when he was 17 years and 227 days old in the 1999 Leinster minor final replay against Wexford. He was 19 years and 161 days old when he made his senior debut in a provincial quarter-final victory against Longford on May 27, 2001.

He was then understudy to Dublin’s first-choice keeper Davy Byrne. The latter returned after the Leinster semi-final – and was first choice for the remainder of the 2001 summer.

New Dublin boss Tommy Lyons then installed Cluxton as the team’s go-to keeper in 2002. He remains the numero uno, missing only a handful of championship games in those two decades.

In 2004, he was serving a one-match ban, after being sent-off in the previous year’s All-Ireland round-three qualifier against Armagh, and missed Dublin’s defeat by Westmeath in the Leinster championship.

But he returned for the first-round qualifier against London and was ever-present for the next 14 years, until he was injured during the 2018 Leinster semi-final win over Longford.

Evan Comerford replaced him during the game – and also featured in the Leinster final against Laois, as well as last year’s Super 8 dead-rubber against Tyrone.

The statistics give a clue as to why he is in no hurry to hang up his boots. He was in his sixth season with Dublin before he won his first Leinster medal, and it was only in his 55th game, and a decade after he made his debut, that Dublin – courtesy of his last-minute free – finally won the Sam Maguire Cup in 2011.

By contrast, Brian Fenton, who made his debut in 2015, has never experienced a championship loss as Dublin are unbeaten in 40 games on the spin.

Another fascinating statistic about Cluxton’s incredible career is that only 10 of his 110 games for Dublin have been played outside Croke Park.

Last October, in the league fixture against Meath at Parnell Park, he became the Sky Blues’ longest-serving footballer, breaking the record set by the famous Johnny McDonnell, whose career as Dublin’s keeper spanned from mid-July 1919 to late May 1938.

It was appropriate that Cluxton (inset) would break that record a few weeks before the centenary anniversary of Bloody Sunday, as McDonnell was a central figure in the events on that November Sunday in 1920.

He participated in one of the assassinations which resulted in the deaths of 14 members of the British security forces, before making his way home and then on to Croke Park, where he played in goal for Dublin against Tipperary in the game which was attacked by the crown forces. It resulted in the death of 14 civilians.

Now, 100 years later, Dublin has produced another keeper who has become a living legend.

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Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton celebrates victory over Tyrone in 2018

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton celebrates victory over Tyrone in 2018

SPORTSFILE

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton celebrates victory over Tyrone in 2018


Stephen Cluxton’s Championship record...

2001

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 2-19; Longford 1-13, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-12; Offaly 0-13, Croke Park

2002

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 0-15; Wexford 1-10, Carlow
  • Dublin 2-11; Meath 0-10, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-13; Kildare 2-11, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 2-8; Donegal 0-14, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-14; Donegal 0-7, Croke Park
  • Armagh 1-14; Dublin 1-13, Croke Park

2003

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 1-19; Louth 0-9, Croke Park
  • Laois 0-16; Dublin 0-14, Croke Park

All-Ireland Qualifiers

  • Dublin 3-9; Derry 1-9, Clones
  • Armagh 0-15; Dublin 0-11, Croke Park

2004

All-Ireland Qualifiers

  • Dublin 3-24; London 0-6, Parnell Park
  • Dublin 0-13; Leitrim 1-4, Carrick-on-Shannon
  • Dublin 1-17; Longford 0-11, Portlaoise
  • Dublin 1-14; Roscommon 0-13, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Kerry 1-15; Dublin 1-8, Croke Park

2005

Leinster SFC

  • 18 Dublin 2-23; Longford 0-10, Croke Park
  • 19 Dublin 1-12; Meath 1-10, Croke Park
  • 20 Dublin 1-17; Wexford 2-10, Croke Park
  • 21 Dublin 0-14; Laois 0-13, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 1-14; Tyrone 1-14, Croke Park
  • Tyrone 2-18; Dublin 1-14, Croke Park

2006

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 1-12; Longford 0-13, Pearse Park
  • Dublin 3-17; Laois 0-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-15; Offaly 0-9, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 1-12; Westmeath 0-5, Croke Park
  • Mayo 1-16; Dublin 2-12, Croke Park

2007

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 0-14; Meath 0-14, Croke Park
  • Dublin 0-16; Meath 0-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-12; Offaly 0-10, Croke Park
  • Dublin 3-14 Laois 1-14, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 0-18; Derry 0-15, Croke Park
  • Kerry 1-15; Dublin 0-16, Croke Park

2008

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 1-22; Louth 0-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 0-13; Westmeath 1-8, Croke Park
  • Dublin 3-23; Wexford 0-9, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Tyrone 3-14; Dublin 1-8, Croke Park

2009

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 0-14; Meath 0-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 4-26; Westmeath 0-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-15; Kildare 0-18, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Kerry 1-24; Dublin 1-7, Croke Park

2010

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 2-16; Wexford 0-15, Croke Park
  • Meath 5-9; Dublin 0-13, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers

  • Dublin 1-21; Tipperary 1-13, Croke Park
  • Dublin 0-14; Armagh 0-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-14; Louth 0-13, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 1-15; Tyrone 0-13, Croke Park
  • Cork 1-15; Dublin 1-14, Croke Park

2011

Leinster SFC:

  • Dublin 1-16; Laois 0-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-12; Kildare 1-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-12; Wexford 1-12, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 0-22; Tyrone 0-15, Croke Park
  • Dublin 0-8; Donegal 0-6, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-12; Kerry 1-11, Croke Park

2012

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 2-22; Louth 0-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-11; Wexford 1-10, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-13; Meath 1-13, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 0-19; Laois 0-16, Croke Park
  • Mayo 0-19; Dublin 0-16, Croke Park

2013

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 1-22; Westmeath 0-9, Croke Park
  • Dublin 4-16 Kildare 1-9, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-15; Meath 0-14, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 1-16; Cork 0-14, Croke Park
  • Dublin 3-18; Kerry 3-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-12; Mayo 1-14, Croke Park

2014

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 2-21; Laois 0-16, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-25; Wexford 1-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 3-20; Meath 1-10, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 2-22; Monaghan 0-11, Croke Park
  • Donegal 3-14; Dublin 0-17, Croke Park

2015

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 4-25; Longford 0-10, Croke Park
  • Dublin 5-18; Kildare 0-14, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-13; Westmeath 0-6, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 2-23; Fermanagh 2-15, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-12; Mayo 1-15, Croke Park
  • Dublin 3-15; Mayo 1-14, Croke Park
  • Dublin 0-12; Kerry 0-9, Croke Park

2016

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 2-21; Laois 2-10, Croke Park
  • Dublin 0-21; Meath 0-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-19; Westmeath 0-10, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 1-15; Donegal 1-10, Croke Pk
  • Dublin 0-22; Kerry 2-14, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-9; Mayo 0-15, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-15; Mayo 1-14, Croke Park

2017

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 0-19; Carlow 0-7, Portlaoise
  • Dublin 4-29; Westmeath 0-10, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-23; Kildare 1-17, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC:

  • Dublin 1-19; Monaghan 0-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-17; Tyrone 0-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-17; Mayo 1-16, Croke Park

2018

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 4-25; Wicklow 1-11, Portlaoise
  • Dublin 2-25; Longford 0-12, Croke Park

Super 8s

  • Dublin 2-15; Donegal 0-16, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-14; Tyrone 0-14, Omagh
  • Dublin 4-24; Roscommon 2-16, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 1-24; Galway 2-12, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-17; Tyrone 1-14, Croke Park

2019

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 5-21; Louth 0-10, Portlaoise
  • Dublin 0-26; Kildare 0-11, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-17; Meath 0-4, Croke Park

Super 8s

  • Dublin 5-18; Cork 1-17, Croke Park
  • Dublin 2-16; Roscommon 0-14, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 3-14; Mayo 1-10, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-16; Kerry 1-16, Croke Park
  • Dublin 1-18; Kerry 0-15, Croke Park

2020

Leinster SFC

  • Dublin 0-22; Westmeath 0-11, Portlaoise
  • Dublin 2-23; Laois 0-7, Croke Park
  • Dublin 3-21; Meath 0-9, Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC

  • Dublin 1-24; Cavan 0-12

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