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02nd May 2023

Ex-Dublin teammate on what Stephen Cluxton is like in the dressing room

Lee Costello

“He would be a joker as well.”

Former Dublin star Kevin Nolan was a teammate of Stephen Cluxton for his whole inter-county career, and he explains what the keeper brings to the dressing room, and why he should be starting from now on.

Nolan was not only there when the Dubs broke their All-Ireland hoodoo and won their first title in 16 years back in 2011 against Kerry – he was Man of the Match that day as well.

The rapid wing back had a brilliant career, winning everything there is to win at club and county level, but for his time in sky blue, he owes a lot to having Cluxton behind him in goals.

One of the most bizarre stories of the GAA this season is Cluxton’s return to the county panel, and things took another turn when he was named to start against Kildare in the Leinster championship.


David O’Hanlon had the number one spot for the whole league campaign and in the opener against Laois, so it was surprising to see Dessie Farrell make the change, especially as the young shot stopper had been very impressive.

Speaking on the latest episode of the GAA Hour, Nolan reveals that he was initially surprised to see Cluxton return to the set-up.

“I was surprised when he came back, I think a lot of the former Dubs would have been as well to see him tog out, I think there was three keepers warming up that day.

“To see him back, obviously the standards he would have kept as a captain, but even as a player, the amount of dressing rooms he’s been in for Dublin, obviously he’s played under many managers, the experiences he would have had, and he’s been there, done that.


“Dublin have had a very open door policy, in that whoever is available, is available for the squad, and again, McCaffrey being back, and Mannion, it just adds to that – there’s high aspirations this year to go on and win it.”

Farrell did say after the match that he was giving Cluxton a game so that if O’Hanlon did get injured, and the sub keeper had to be brought in, he would be better off having some experience under his belt.

Nolan believes that because he never officially announced his retirement, there was always the possibility that the Parnell’s man could return to the squad.

“I don’t think he’s the type of person who would have come out with these retirement statements, the iPhone notes app screenshot on social media, he never would have actually said it.


“I think he would have always been the type of person that, if he did walk away, he would have just gone into the sunset and that was it.

“But the fact that the door was always open there for him to come back, and listen, if he was in against Laois, obviously they weren’t overly tested in that game, against Kildare a few high balls came in and he dealt with them really well.

“On the kick-outs, Kildare did drop off, but when he did have to go long, he kicked one under the Hogan stand, plucked it out of the sky – he still has it in the repertoire.

“He’s tried and tested, he knows what to do, the standards he sets for everybody – it’s going to help the keepers that are there for years to come, and it’s going to help the players make sure they’re fully focused on what the aim is.”


All of the former Dublin players speak highly of their old goalkeeper, but Nolan reveals what exactly the veteran star is like in the dressing room.

“He would be a joker as well. He is a teacher and maybe a bit reserved in terms of media and all which is fine, that’s up to everybody, up to themselves.

“Everyone would be accountable, if the defenders were meeting about kick outs or whatever it is, he would be vocal and make sure that people are doing their job, and he would expect from others if he wasn’t doing his job.

“I think the fact that he’s in now, and he did the job well, it was just obviously the test that they needed. I think up until the 51st minute Kildare was in the lead, and they were taking control of it.

“Dublin then levelled it up and sort of controlled the game after that but I think Cluxton, for me, will be number one the next day.”

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