Dublin’s trio of champions absent from league final


Stephen Cluxton Safely Gathers Ball - Dublin v Tyrone, Croke Park, 31 July 2010.
Also in picture: Michael FitzSimons and Kevin Nolan of Dublin and Kevin Hughes and Philip Jordan of Tyrone., tags: dublin's league final - Kman999 via Flickr

Dublin’s coach, Dessie Farrell, has confirmed that the team will be without the services of Stephen Cluxton, James McCarthy, and Mick Fitzsimons for the Allianz Football League Division 1 final against Derry. These players, who have secured three All-Ireland titles, are not expected to participate in the upcoming match.

Nevertheless, Farrell has underscored their vital importance to Dublin’s plans for the forthcoming All-Ireland SFC campaign. He pointed out that despite their absence in the final, their experience and skills are crucial for the team’s future success. Farrell emphasized the significant impact these players have on the team. He assured that their contribution would be key in Dublin’s pursuit of victory in the All-Ireland SFC campaign.

McCarthy is the only one who has seen game time this season, having played half an hour against Monaghan in the league opener. Cluxton and Fitzsimons have yet to make their debuts in 2023. Before facing Tyrone, Dublin had Cluxton participate in their pre-match routines at Croke Park, resulting in a victory.

Dublin’s League Evolution

The absence of these veterans from league action is a departure from Dublin’s dominant league records under Jim Gavin. Farrell acknowledged that their league record could be better, but he doesn’t always prioritize the league as much as his predecessor did.

In 2015, Dublin lost to Kerry in the Division One final; in 2016, both teams were deemed joint winners due to a shortened season; and in 2022, they were relegated after losing to Monaghan on the last day of the campaign. Dublin bounced back with a Division Two title the following year, defeating Derry in the final. The title match brings together the same competitors as before.

At 42 years old, Cluxton made his championship debut in the Leinster semi-final last year, while Fitzsimons, turning 36 soon, missed their first three games due to sitting exams. Dublin’s league campaign has seen some significant changes: they lost their first game against Monaghan but still qualified for the final with a thumping win over Tyrone. This was also their first regulation league victory at Croke Park against Tyrone, marking a change from their usual home fixtures in Parnell Park.

Dublin and Tyrone’s history extends back to November 1991, when Tyrone claimed a 4-11 to 0-11 win. The record shows two ties from the seven divisional matches played by these two teams. This past weekend, Dublin posted their most significant league score (3-23) against Tyrone, indicating their improved form this season. Meanwhile, Tipperary faces challenges in managing leaders and performing when pressure mounts.

Dublin’s Absent Trio

Stephen Cluxton, Mick Fitzsimons, and James McCarthy, collectively known as the three-time All-Ireland winning trio for Dublin, hold a revered status in the annals of Irish football history, boasting an illustrious collection of nine All-Ireland titles.

Their multifaceted talents have played pivotal roles in Dublin’s unprecedented success: Stephen Cluxton’s unrivaled goalkeeping prowess, characterized by his unparalleled accuracy, extraordinary agility, and exemplary leadership on the field; James McCarthy’s remarkable adaptability and unwavering determination, which have earned him a plethora of accolades and commendations throughout his career; and Mick Fitzsimons’ steadfast composure under pressure, serving as a cornerstone of Dublin’s triumphs in critical moments.

The profound and irreplaceable contributions of Dublin’s revered trio of Cluxton, Fitzsimons, and McCarthy have left an indelible mark on the landscape of Irish football, solidifying their legacies as icons of the sport and embodying the essence of Dublin’s unparalleled dominance in Gaelic football.

The Challenge for Dublin in the Future

In the build-up to the All-Ireland SFC campaign, Farrell is tasked with finding a delicate equilibrium between the time-tested wisdom of Dublin’s absent veterans – Cluxton, McCarthy, and Fitzsimons – and the raw talent and enthusiasm of the younger players in his squad.

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