After being a key part of one of the greatest football teams in GAA history, Dean Rock called time on his inter-county career with Dublin.
The Ballymun Kickams forward has won eight All-Ireland titles, including the six-in-a-row triumph, since making his debut for Dublin in 2012.
Rock’s free taking often made him Dublin’s mr. reliable in pivotal moments, which included the winning free against Mayo in the 2017 All-Ireland final.
He ended his time with Dublin by scoring the final point in their win over Kerry last summer. Speaking to BreakingNews.ie, the idea of retirement was on his mind throughout last season.
“For me, it was a good way to finish. I am at an age now, coming up to my 35th birthday, where work commitments and life commitments are massive at the moment.
“It was just the right time for me personally, I am still in good shape physically, it is nice to go back to the club in a relatively good state, and give a good couple of years there.
“At maybe different stages in the year, I probably identified it was probably going to be my last year. I suppose after you win, there were probably thoughts where I thought I wasn’t too bad, I might go back again.
“As you get a bit of time to rest up over the winter months, you come to that realisation, and you are honest with yourself that it is the right time to step away.”
In his time with Dublin, Rock won a total of 12 Leinster Senior Football titles, six National Leagues, and three All Stars.
Having also ended his intercounty football career as Dublin’s top scorer, there are plenty of iconic moments for Rock to remember his playing days.
However, a historic night in 2019 is what he picked as his favourite moment in a Dublin jersey.
“I am very fortunate to have won so much with so many great players. I suppose the 2019 final in particular and winning five-in-a-row for the first time in the history of the men’s game in football and hurling was hugely satisfying.
“That night in 2019, the replay against Kerry, was definitely my favourite memory.
“You are just very fortunate to be born during a period of Dublin dominance which doesn’t last forever. It is something that might never be achieved again in terms of six in a row.
“The big thing was to be very fortunate and grateful to your coaches and parents and everyone who pushed you to pursue the game and to get the most out of yourself.
“If that didn’t happen, you wouldn’t be part of that team. Looking back at it now, it was a crazy time, but a magical 12 years.”
Now without Rock, Dublin got their season underway last weekend, in a one-point defeat to Monaghan in Croke Park in their return to Division One.
Once again, Dublin are the team to catch after they won their first All-Ireland title since 2020 last July. While his experience will be missed, he is expecting an open championship this year.
“There is probably a group of eight to 10 teams who have a realistic chance of getting to an All-Ireland final, and ultimately being able to win the All-Ireland.
“I think it is really open this year. You have all the teams in Division One, and then you have the likes of Donegal and Cork, Armagh in Division Two, who are hoping to get promoted and then be really competitive in the championship.”
Life after Dublin
For the first time in 13 years, Dean Rock isn’t preparing for Dublin’s latest league game.
While he will still be lining up for his club Ballymun Kickhams, Rock can now focus on his interests outside sport.
The 34-year-old is still keen to be involved in the game in whatever way he can, and hasn’t ruled out the prospect of coaching in the future.
“In terms of my football stuff, not much has changed. Still four nights a week with Ballymun Kickhams, it would have been four or five nights with Dublin, so not too much has changed in that sense.
“Off the field, I am passionate about my career, and family life and stuff like that.
“I would still like to be involved in terms of co-commentary stuff and analysing the game, certainly something I would be interested in going forward.
“Long term, potentially look at coaching and see what happens there. See if I enjoy it first and foremost, and see how that evolves.”