Stephen Cluxton made a sensational inter-county return after being named on the bench for Dublin's win over Louth in Croke Park.

The Dubs advanced to a Division 2 decider against Derry with a seven-point win over a Louth side themselves hoping to make a national decider, but the game was somewhat overshadowed by the presence of the decorated goalkeeper, who was an unused substitute on the day.

The 41-year-old, winner of eight All-Ireland titles, has not played for the county since the 2020 All-Ireland final defeat of Mayo.

Cluxton did not formally announce his retirement from his county, but was widely expected to have stepped away after winning the last of his Celtic Crosses under Dessie Farrell.

He was assigned number 16 in a late change to their panel, replacing Michael Shiel.

Speaking afterwards, Farrell said the veteran returned due to an injury crisis and will stay in the group going into the Leinster Football Championship.

He told Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1: "Stephen has been back in training a couple of weeks. He is fit and healthy. We've had a couple of goalkeeping injury woes and Evan (Comerford) hasn't played football this season just yet.

"He is working his way back to full recovery and another goalkeeper who was with the Under-20s got injured so Stephen stepped into the breach. We're delighted to have him. It's great to have his experience and leadership around the place."

Asked if he is ready to play now, despite not featuring today, the Dublin boss said: "I think so, knowing Stephen. The competitive juices are still there. He'll be doing his best at training for the next few weeks.

"Stephen has always said he'd make himself available if we had an injury issues. That is the way it turned out."

The Dubs secured a return to Division 1 and a final with Derry thanks to their victory today.

Farrell, however, is not getting overly excited about their good start to the year.

He concluded: "Obviously one of the objectives at the start of the season was getting back to Division 1 football. We're happy with that. We won't be patting ourselves on the back just yet. Some aspects of the performance were pleasing, others weren't, there's definitely loads to work on."