Friday 15 December 2017

Dubs hero Dean Rock is 'in a great place'

Ballymun forward happy to be a Dublin regular and has no gripes about ref's calls

Dublin’s Dean Rock in action against Fermanagh players (l-r) James McMahon, Eoin Donnelly and Mickey Jones during their All-Ireland SFC quarter-final in Croke Park last Sunday
Dublin’s Dean Rock in action against Fermanagh players (l-r) James McMahon, Eoin Donnelly and Mickey Jones during their All-Ireland SFC quarter-final in Croke Park last Sunday

Maybe it was because Jim Gavin did the maths, decided it was too deep into summer and his team too thickly entrenched in the serious part of the Championship to be picking fights with officialdom.

Or possibly, it's because his team gave a decidedly unpolished performance when most expected gleam, and anything other than a direct admission of such would look like an attempt to distract from the blotchy events of the day.

Perhaps it was because the final result wasn't really effected or that Gavin surmised that with Kerry looking pretty certain to be in an All-Ireland final again, he was unlikely to cross paths with Pádraig O'Sullivan again.


The Dublin manager was offered repeated opportunities to criticise Sunday's referee in his post-match press conference but declined each time.

Gavin had ammunition, too.

He was questioned, probed and almost goaded into having a cut but politely demurred.


The goal was, in hindsight, an blatantly incorrect decision.

The free count (21/4), unusually lopsided.

But Dublin's message afterwards was uniform - things happen.

Granted, he was probably the furthest player on the pitch from Stephen Cluxon at the time of his 1930s-style bungling over the line by Seán Quigley, but Dean Rock had no crosses to bear with O'Sullivan afterwards.

No gripes.

"I just saw it on the big screen. I just saw it was a barge. I didn't really know what to make of it but it was given and we reacted well from it," he reflected.

"We got a goal of our own so, it was a good reaction. It didn't knock us too much."

Rock is a refreshingly happy-go-lucky sort of character and one unlikely to be overly perturbed by any development of a Sunday afternoon other than a Dublin defeat and/or a poor individual performance and as it happened, he had neither to consider.

But still, had such a refereeing error occurred in a tighter match, Dublin's season might be over.

"That's not really in our control. That's really up to the referees and umpires to learn from that so hopefully it won't be an issue again."

And the free count?

"Just, probably some clumsy tackling on our behalf. I don't think there was anything wrong from the referee's point of view. It's just something we'll have to work on over the next couple of weeks."

Strange though it seems, Dublin won by eight yet were less comfortable in the last 10 minutes than they were in the first.

"Yeah, Fermanagh came hard and strong at us towards the end," Rock surmised.

"They managed to get two goals but I think we reacted well to it there at the end.


"We got a goal and a few points ourselves. We weathered the storm pretty well and managed to get a few scores of our own."

For Rock, the game was an assurance of a spot in Dublin's starting attack for the All-Ireland semi-final in four weeks' time.

He kicked 0-7 (3f) in arguably his most impressive performance of a prolific season.

"I'm in a great place. I've played every game since the O'Byrne Cup this year," he noted.

"I got into the team and I got the jersey and I'm just happy to do what I can and I'm really looking forward to the next game in four weeks' time.

"I came back last summer, last May. And I was happy with it from there and I just kicked on ever since. I got a good pre-season behind me and I'm just in a good place.

"Everyone loves getting games and a lot of game time and I've managed to do that this year. It's just working for me at the minute and I'm just loving every minute of it.

Talk of an easy ride didn't, Rock insisted, penetrate the Dublin dressing-room.

"We've a good close-knit group and we just stay away from the outside stuff," he explained.

"We were just focused on beating Fermanagh today, whether it was by one point or four."

"Regardless of who we play," Rock concluded, "we're going to be playing better quality opposition.

"We've a lot of work on over the next four weeks. But we'll be ready."

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