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Fans Stunned As Stephen Cluxton Makes Shock Return To Dublin Panel

Fans Stunned As Stephen Cluxton Makes Shock Return To Dublin Panel
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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It's early days, but Dublin may well have pulled off the shock of the season already, with Stephen Cluxton making a surprise return to the football panel for Sunday's Division Two matchup with Louth in Croke Park.

The remarkable return of one of the county's greatest ever players was confirmed just ahead of throw-in on Sunday, with Cluxton named on the subsitutes' bench for the final game of the Allianz League.

Naturally, fans were stunned at the goalkeeper's return to the Dublin camp - not least because the Dubs perfectly kept the news under wraps until mere minutes before the game.

Dublin v Louth marked by shock return of Stephen Cluxton

Stephen Cluxton is undoubtedly one of Dublin's greatest ever footballers - if not the county's greatest ever - and his brilliance in goal came to define a decade of Gaelic football during Dublin's run to eight All-Ireland titles in the 2010s.

Cluxton was captain for seven of those triumphs, securing his spot on the list of the greatest to ever do it in the sport.

After captaining Dublin to the 2020 championship, Cluxton quietly stepped back from the panel, with his departure not formally confirmed until early 2022 by manager Dessie Farrell.

Evan Comerford and David O'Hanlon have fought it out to establish themselves as Cluxton's long-term replacement - but now it seems that the Dublin legend is back for the 2023 season.


Ahead of throw-in at Croke Park, Dublin GAA shared a video to their Twitter page which showed Cluxton running out of the tunnel with the team.

It was hard to comprehend the return of Cluxton, and the clip did not necessarily confirm that he was back as a player, rather than merely joining the camp.

Just moments before throw-in, however, came the formal announcement of Sunday's bombshell news - Cluxton was wearing 16, and on the bench for the game against Louth.



Naturally, fans were in utter disbelief.

The surprise was only amplified by the fact that Dublin managed to keep the news completely secret until just 14 minutes before throw-in, making this even more shocking than the return of Diarmuid Connolly mid-way through the 2019 season.

Commentator Oisin Langan was among those to comment on the news, saying that an audible gasp was heard around Croke Park when the news was confirmed over the stadium's PA.



It is, of course, important to note that Cluxton never formally retired and, despite missing the 2021 and 2022 seasons, had never made any public announcement about stepping back from the panel. His sensational return to the panel - paired with those of Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion - will no doubt be a massive boost to Dublin's 2023 chances.

First things first, however, and that will be for Stephen Cluxton to wrestle back his grip on his spot in the team, after impressive form from David O'Hanlon throughout the league.

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