Football

'I think their decisions will have a massive say': Dub stalwarts' call could influence Rock

Dublin star Dean Rock, pictured at the Budweiser Combine event. Budweiser is the official beer partner of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, which returns to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday
Dublin star Dean Rock, pictured at the Budweiser Combine event. Budweiser is the official beer partner of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, which returns to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday Dublin star Dean Rock, pictured at the Budweiser Combine event. Budweiser is the official beer partner of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, which returns to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday

AS he toured the confines of Croke Park with wife-to-be Niamh and baby daughter Sadie, Dean Rock wore the contented grin of a man happy for his Dublin career to come to a close on a glorious day for the county.

Fast forward three weeks, though, and the Ballymun sharp-shooter no longer seems so sure.

Rock came off the bench to edge Dessie Farrell’s men over the line against Kerry, splitting the Hill 16 uprights to move the Dubs two points clear six minutes into added time. Since then, he and Niamh have married, there was a stag do in Marbella, a short honeymoon, and now the Dublin championship is on his doorstep.

Yet while the 33-year-old said this latest All-Ireland triumph “probably could be my last act playing for Dublin” in the hours after, his tune has started to change as the dust settles on a hectic few weeks.

“There’s obviously a huge amount of emotion after the game, I think everyone could see that,” said Rock, speaking at a Budweiser Combine event.

“We put a huge amount into this year. It was certainly an All-Ireland that we really wanted to win, we probably attached a lot of emotion to it. After the game they’re the kind of conversations that pop up, around retirement, will I go again and stuff like that.

“But as it kind of settles down a little bit, my own plans pretty much are just to go back to the club now and see what happens over the next couple of weeks, try and win on Saturday [against Templeogue] and keep the championship going for ourselves, then just weigh things up as the year goes on, have conversations with those you trust most, and then just make a decision on it.

“We’re obviously the other side of 30 now, a lot of us, and this year took a lot out of a lot of players because we put so much time and effort into it. It’s certainly something I physically think I can do again, go to the well again, it’s just the mental side of it and then your family life and everything else.

“We won’t make any decisions yet. It’s a quick season nowadays, it’s only six months or thereabouts really, so it probably does give you the opportunity to play a little bit longer. But we’ll see.”

Rock isn’t the only one whose future remains uncertain, with the likes of fellow Ballymun stalwart James McCarthy, Mick Fitzsimons, Stephen Cluxton and even boss Farrell among those considering their next step.

Conversations took place in the euphoric haze of the days that followed victory over the Kingdom, with the narrative since shifting from players being ready to walk off into the sunset to weighing up whether to come back for another crack.

“That could absolutely happen,” says Rock, “and I think that’s the dilemma that faces lots of players - when is the right time to leave, when is the right time to stay on?

“It’s something you can only just make that decision in time, over the next couple of weeks and next couple of months. I’m sure lads on the management team and players themselves will make that decision.

“But I certainly felt, after the game, there’s a lot of emotion there, you’re thinking ‘well that’s brilliant, that’s a great way to go’… but as time goes on, then you think ‘well the season is only a couple of months long, maybe I’ll come back a little bit later at the start of the year, miss the early rounds of the League and then come back towards the end of the League and then back for championship.’ You just weigh things up differently. 

“But yeah, certainly, we put a huge amount into this year and it will test a lot of men if they can go to the well again and reproduce again what we produced this year. And only those individuals know the answer to that themselves, if they can do that again.

“There’s certainly a lot more All-Irelands in that group, at the moment. But as you know, if a couple of players leave or there’s a mass exodus, obviously things can change very, very quickly.

“The figureheads and the guys at the top, you are influenced by those people and I think their decisions will have a massive say in the group in terms of who else will stay on.”