GAA Football

Returning Stephen Cluxton still the benchmark for goalkeepers insists Rory Beggan

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney and goalkeeper Rory Beggan alongside Tyrone boss Mickey Harte, defender Michael McKernan, Bank of Ireland's Geraldine O'Hagan and Ulster GAA president Oliver Galligan at the Dr McKenna Cup final launch in Armagh. Picture by Declan Roughan
Neil Loughran

RORY Beggan has backed Stephen Cluxton’s decision to go again, insisting the Dublin veteran remains the benchmark for goalkeepers across the country.

New boss Dessie Farrell indicated last week that the 38-year-old, named player of the year after helping the Dubs complete their drive for five, would be staying on for a 20th season.

And Monaghan ’keeper Beggan, who pipped Cluxton to the number one spot on the 2018 Allstar team, believes the Parnell’s stalwart still has plenty to offer at the top level.

“It’s great to see him back,” said the Scotstown man.

“As any ’keeper will tell you, he’s the benchmark; all the ’keepers are trying to catch up with him. It’s maybe not great for every other county to hear that he’s back but for Dublin, they’ll be delighted for that.

“I love watching him in action – how composed he is in games, the decisions he makes in clutch moments. When you go into face Dublin, you’re thinking about the forwards but then you’re thinking ‘what’s Stephen Cluxton going to do?’ Everything starts with him.

“You don’t even see the real big benefits of Stephen Cluxton until the [All-Ireland] semi-final/final because teams are trying to set up in ways to neutralise Dublin’s attacking threat so they maybe just drop off and let him hit a 20 yard kick-out.

“But he showed in the big games last year why he was player of the year.”

At 27, Beggan is 11 years Cluxton’s junior – but admits he would love to hold the Monaghan jersey for as long as Cluxton has been between the posts for the Dubs.

“You can’t guarantee anything,” he said.

“You can’t guarantee you’ll be playing here next year or the year after. You want to play as long as you can at the highest level but the way the game’s going now, it’s maybe not sustainable.

“If someone hasn’t taken my place by then, I’d happily stay on.”

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