His demeanour paints a serene image of patience and routine but Dean Rock admits he briefly panicked after missing a couple of early frees in this year’s All-Ireland final.
The oldest forward in the Dublin line-up, Rock lost his way for a period and failed to convert two frees in the first 14 minutes of the final.
It corresponded with a great start for Tyrone who roared 0-5 to 0-1 ahead and Rock revealed what went through his head initially after the misses.
“It was, ‘You f*#king eejit!’” said Rock, who slotted the winner from a free in the 2017 final.
“But it’s gone so quick then, the ‘keeper has the ball down on the tee straight away. After the first one I would have been saying to myself, ‘You’re going to get the next one’. Then that didn’t go over but ultimately, you just have to keep reaffirming to yourself that you’ve done this before and if you get the next opportunity, you’re going to stick it over the bar.
“It comes down to a bit of mental strength and a bit of belief in yourself that you’re not going to miss three in a row.”
Rock steadied himself to convert two more frees and a 45 in the game, finishing with 0-7 and 2-41 for the summer. It brought his overall tally in Championship games to 8-173, placing him behind only Bernard Brogan, Jimmy Keaveney, and his father Barney in Dublin’s all-time scorers list.
Yet, the four-time All-Ireland medallist still feels there’s room for improvement and revealed he had two sessions with kicking guru Dave Alred and Johnny Sexton early last year.
Alred’s book, The Pressure Principle has become a bible for athletes across various codes, with Jonny Wilkinson describing Alred as a ‘genius’.
Open champion Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald, and Pádraig Harrington have also utilised the Englishman’s services.
“I would have done a session or two with Johnny Sexton and Dave Alred, kicking sessions,” said Rock. “I would have learned a huge amount from that. A couple of practical sessions with those guys was invaluable to me. It’s your routine really and trying to shift yourself from the team mindset into an individual mindset as quickly as you can for each kick.”
This article was originally published on The Irish Examiner