Stephen Cluxton is the best ever, he just wasn't the best this year
Outrage, total outrage...
The 2018 Gaelic football All-Stars select has been announced and there is some cause for concern.
Stephen Cluxton has been snubbed for the fifth year in a row. Since his last All-Star win, he has lifted Sam Maguire four times.
The man has captained the All-Ireland winners five times in total, and to put that into context; only two men have lifted the Sam Maguire cup on three occasions, the last of those in 1917.
- John Kennedy (1891, 1892 & 1894)
- Sean O'Kennedy (1915,1916,1917)
His record is incredible, and it probably won't ever be replicated. The 37-year-old has tapped into uncharted territory, no goalkeeper has ever had such a huge influence on their side before.
There can be no disputing that Stephen Cluxton is the best goalkeeper of all time.
Was he the best goalkeeper in 2018 though? Many seem to think he was...
Since the all stars committee love sticking players in random positions to fit in their favourites. Why not of put beggan at corner forward( he can kick a score) and make way for cluxton in nets. I'm a Meath man and it even annoys me how underappreciated he is. #PwCAllStars #Gaa
— Rory's Stories (@RorysStories) November 1, 2018
Stephen Cluxton missing out on an All Star once again ,in my opinion he was head and shoulders,hands and feet ahead of anything this year in particular..
— David Brady (@D9BMayo) November 1, 2018
To do four in a row and get seven players??? Nothing against Beggan at all he had great season, and forget last few years but Cluxton was best keeper this year. Kerry only other team to do four in a row in all star era and they got 9 that year. I’d have 9/10 Dubs this year pic.twitter.com/GS75GometN
— Tomás Ó Sé (@tomas5ky) November 1, 2018
There is a legitimate argument to be had here. Stephen Cluxton has revolutionised the game, he is the best to do it, and he has raised the bar for goalkeepers all over Ireland.
However, he was not the best goalkeeper in 2018.
The best was Rory Beggan.
The Scotstown keeper was head and shoulders above anything we seen all year. His distribution was top class. Beggan can go short, but he can go long, way long. So long that it was a genuine weapon of choice for Monaghan's attack.
Rory Torpedo Beggan pic.twitter.com/XKISPZAqcN
— Conán Doherty (@ConanDoherty) March 26, 2018
He kicked frees, many from almost his own half.
A lot of goalkeepers are kicking frees in the modern game, and you could argue that trend was reinvented by Cluxton in 2011, but the importance of Beggan hitting frees for Monaghan cannot be understated as it helped to shoulder the burden from Conor McManus.
— Declan Flanagan (@DeclanFlanagan) June 26, 2018
Despite his forays out the field, Beggan knew where his priorities lay, and that was to protect the goals. His save from Daniel Flynn in the opening game of the Super 8 series might well go down as the save of the year, and given how close that game turned out to be, it probably swung it in Monaghan's favour.
Rory Beggan is the quarterback, the linchpin, the driving force behind this Monaghan side, and that is some feat considering they possess quite possibly the best forward in the country.
He is totally deserving of his first all-star award for the simple reason that he was the best goalkeeper on show this year.
Now, back to Cluxton.
It's a crying shame that Stephen Cluxton has been consistently overlooked considering what he has achieved in the last couple seasons, but the argument that he should've been rewarded for his efforts this year just doesn't wash.
We wouldn't be in the midst of this debate had Cluxton been properly appreciated when it was deserved, and that was 2017.
Last season Cluxton had a stellar year in front of the posts for Dublin, he was the focal point for everything good about a side that won their third All-Ireland in a row.
When Dublin where under pressure at half time in the final, something had to give. They needed to change things up. What happened in the second half was an absolute masterclass from the GOAT. He did not waste one single possession taking 11 kickouts, of which Dublin won 11. Incredible.
On top of all of that. 2017 was the year that Cluxton broke the record for the number of times an individual climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to collect the cup.
That was the year that the legendary goalkeeper was really overlooked, it was last year, not this year. This year he was second best, maybe even third best behind Graham Brody.
The major issue here is that we are having this debate a year too late.
At the end of the day though, Stephen Cluxton already has five all-stars, to go with his six All-Ireland medals. He is probably the least bit concerned about all of this.