When Stephen Cluxton swept over the late score that ended Dublin's 16-year wait for Sam Maguire, it sparked wild celebrations in the capital and triggered an era of unprecedented dominance.

He's been there every step of the way, a constant throughout a decade of glory.

Not that you'd know it from his demeanour. Cluxton's stoicism has become his trademark - don't forget, this is a man who started sweeping up the dressing room while his team-mates were celebrating clinching the five-in-a-row all around him.     

In 2011, Cluxton was involved in a famous incident that revealed so much about his character. He'd kicked the winning free in the 72nd minute to end the Dubs' drought and sink the Kingdom by a point.

In a symbolic gesture, snapped by photographers, Kerry defender Tomás Ó Sé handed the goalkeeper the match ball at the final whistle.

On this week's RTÉ GAA Podcast, Ó Sé revealed what happened next. 

"It was obviously a huge game, the first time the Dubs had crossed the line," he said.

"I was in possession of the ball when the final whistle went. Hill 16 was right behind me so I wasn't going up that direction, I was going the opposite direction.

"I knew I had to stay on the pitch to clap them. Jesus, I wanted to go to the dressing room but I said I'd stay out for a while. I went down towards the Canal End and I met Cluxton on the way.

"I had the ball in my hand. Balls change throughout the match so I don't know if it was the ball he kicked over the bar. It wasn't that I went looking for him, I didn't go looking for him. But he happened to pass me so I said, 'here'.

"I didn't have any chat with him or anything. Somebody told me he rifled it into the Cusack Stand after, which was funny in itself. 

"We went down to Killarney and were drowning our sorrows. It obviously went around and (people were saying) 'aw it's terrible form, Tomás did this brilliant thing'.

Watch Tomas Ó Sé recount the story from 32 minutes onwards

"Look, if I hadn't crossed paths with him I wouldn't have given him the ball. It wasn't as if I was going around looking for him. I was getting calls from fellahs in Dublin saying, 'Jeez it was very bad form from your man'.

"I wasn't paying too much attention to it all. I was on my way back down to Cork on the Wednesday. I got a phone call. I wasn't in the form to talk to nobody. It was Cluxton.

"He said, 'just to explain, me kicking that ball away was in no way an insult to you'. It gives you an insight in to the guy. I love the way he operates.

"I played against Cluxton at the very start (of his career) and by no means was Cluxton anywhere near what he is now. He had a hatred for us because we were on top at the time and he made bones about it either.

"Out of pure diligence and work rate, he changed everything."


Mikey Stafford, Rory O'Neill, Shane 'Cake' Curran and Ó Sé have a wider discussion on the top goalkeepers of the last 41 years.

The Irish public have voted for their favourite - listen below to what our line-up had to say on the greatest players to stand between the posts. 

Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast at Apple Podcasts, SoundcloudSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.