Rock’s nerves of steel

by Karl Graham
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AS Dean Rock stepped up nearly 45 yards from the Davin Stand with the destination of the 2017 All-Ireland final in his hands, some may have had flashbacks of the league final against Kerry when he missed in remarkably similar circumstances.
However, the man himself had nothing else on his mind other than sticking the ball between the posts.
“I was just absolutely delighted the ball went over the bar,” Rock said afterwards. “Diarmuid [Connolly] did very well to win the free and it’s my job to put it over the bar. Thankfully it went over.”
Many players would buckle under such pressure but the Ballymun Kickhams man thrives under such circumstances, and this time he made history in the process.
“I love being in those situations. I missed a kick in the league final to get a draw and I learned lessons from that. I struck it well and the rest is history.”
That score proved to be the last of a an absorbing contest that saw Dublin edge Mayo by 1-17 to 1-16 to become the first team since Kerry in 1986 to win three All-Ireland’s in a row.
Rock struggled early on with a couple of early missed opportunities but the introduction of Diarmuid Connolly and Kevin McManamon at half-time gave the Dubs a much-needed boost, and Rock’s final kick saw him finish the game with six points to his name.
Mayo’s loss see’s their winless run now stretch to 66 years but Rock took time out after the game to praise his side’s opponents.
“When we come up against Mayo, there’s always a point in it. Thankfully we’ve been on the right side of it. They are a fantastic side and bring out the best in us. It’s a dream come true to win one.”
Club mate James McCarthy walked away as the man of the match on Sunday but few would have argued if the award had gone the way of Rock. One of whom would likely have been teammate Kevin McManamon who paid tribute to his fellow forward after the game.
“I have unbelievable respect for the amount of practice he does. I don’t think I would have wanted anyone else in that position with the game on the line and a minute to go.
“He’s just a legend with the amount of practice he does and how cool he is under pressure and I’m delighted.
“He took a big hit in the league final against Kerry. He took that on his own shoulders and it hit him pretty hard so it’s a nice little twist that he got the winner today. He’s an absolute legend, so fair play to him,” said McManamon.

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