James McCarthy and Dean Rock hint at retirement after banking another All-Ireland winners' medal

Dean Rock celebrates victory with Dublin team-mate Brian Fenton Picture by Philip Walsh
Dean Rock celebrates victory with Dublin team-mate Brian Fenton Picture by Philip Walsh

ALL-IRELAND winning Dublin captain James McCarthy and best pal Dean Rock have indicated that they may retire after their latest All-Ireland success.

Free-taker Rock struck the game’s last point to clinch a landmark two-point win for Dublin, “probably” his “last act” in a Dublin jersey, according to the man himself.

As for midfielder McCarthy, it wasn’t his best performance but it was enough to secure his ninth medal while he lifted the Sam Maguire Cup as team skipper.

McCarthy is now the first ever outfield player to have won nine All-Ireland football medals after starting in all of the finals.

Speaking in the post-match press conference while clutching a pint of Guinness, McCarthy acknowledged that it “isn’t a bad way probably to wrap it up” and said that there are “a lot of guys who have to make decisions in the next couple of months”.

Rock, who earned his eighth All-Ireland medal largely as an impact substitute this year, was slightly more definitive about his exit.

“It’s a nice moment,” said Rock, who kicked the winning point in the 2017 final win over Mayo. 

“It’s a totally different season this year for me in terms of being in and out of the team – but you have to accept it and that’s the way it is. Ultimately, that probably could be my last act playing for Dublin so it’s certainly a nice way to go out.

“And it’s my daughter’s first birthday as well today. It was special, and look, I’m 33 now, had a fantastic career. We won’t write it off yet but, yeah, could be the last.”

Asked to clarify if he was essentially retiring, Rock said: “We’ll try to get back with the club the next couple of weeks and make a decision then. But yeah, to be honest, it probably would be my last act in that kick. Yeah, not everyone gets to go out on those terms.”

McCarthy used the press conference to stick it to those who had been critical of manager 

Dessie Farrell throughout the 2021 and 2022 seasons, when Tyrone 

and Kerry made off with the silverware.

“I just thought some of the shots at him the last two years were disgraceful to be honest,” said McCarthy. 

“Like, it’s always on the players who cross the white line out there. We lost two All-Ireland semi-finals, one by a kick of a ball, one after extra-time. The margins are tight. Very, very tight. We’ve come out the other side of them plenty of times as well.

“We were ferociously disappointed with the last two seasons. We were hurt. They really did hurt. But life goes on.”

McCarthy said the win will go down as particularly special for him.

“I have no doubt in saying that, it was the most special All-Ireland I’ve ever won,” he said. 

“To come back after being knocked down twice and a few people ruling you out and thinking the time has passed, but I knew we were still good enough to win it. I had no doubt in my mind.

“It was just about getting a few pieces together, trying to drive a few lads on to get a bit better, and myself to get better, Mick Fitz (Fitzsimons)to get better, Stephen Cluxton to get better... and look what Mick Fitz did today – ‘mission impossible’, some would have said. But he went one-on-one with David Clifford all day. 

I played with Mick a long time, 

he is an incredible player, he is like glue.”