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David Clifford: The Kerry forward discusses getting double-marked, increased expectation and adjusting to fatherhood | GAANews


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Clifford’s stunning performances have led to defenses paying him extra attention

A good performance for an amateur golfer is accompanied with their handicap being cut. The better you play, the more difficult it becomes the next day.

Perhaps in a similar fashion, the better David Clifford plays on a football field, the trickier his next match will be.

The Fossa forward ran riot in the National League final win over May, scoring 1-5 from play. Five weeks later, Cork couldn’t be accused of being overly cautious by assigning two players to him in Páirc Uí Rinn, and at times a third. To the Rebels’ credit, they limited him to a single point from play.

Clifford was closely watched on Lee-side

Clifford was closely watched on Lee-side

For Clifford, it is about adjusting to the extra pressure.


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“Certain teams are going to have their styles. Obviously it’s going to be a bit more open some days. But trying to find ways around the plus-one or plus-two is a good challenge, and it’s something I haven’t fully cracked yet, so it’s nice to keep working on that,” outlined the three-time All-Star, speaking at the launch of SuperValu’s #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign.

Given the trajectory of his career thus far, you wouldn’t doubt him when he says ‘yet’, suggesting it is a mere eventuality until he cracks the code.

“We’ll try and find ways around that,” he continued. “It’s just important to try and keep working towards getting around that.

“Trying to get that consistency of performance is something to strive for. But also it’s important that with Kerry, we have a massive spread of forwards. So if it’s not me that’s going to do the damage, there’s plenty of other people to do it.” .”

Highlights of Kerry's 0-23 to 0-11 win over Cork

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Highlights of Kerry’s 0-23 to 0-11 win over Cork

Highlights of Kerry’s 0-23 to 0-11 win over Cork

Last Saturday evening, the Kingdom accumulated 0-23, despite their talisman being well marshalled by Kevin Flahive and Seán Powter.

“We got a massive boost off the bench. Particularly the experienced fellas, which is great. Some of them have been struggling for fitness throughout the league. To have them back in, brings a bit of depth. But it also brings a massive amount of competition too within the camp which is good,” Clifford noted.

“We were well aware of the challenge Cork bring. In 2019 we had a massive test with them as well. Obviously they pipped us in 2020. We’re well aware of the challenge they bring, and again they definitely did that on Saturday evening .

“It was nice to come out the right side of it. It was a tough battle.

“Plenty of things to work on obviously, but it was nice to get out of it.”

Another pleasing aspect was the fact they achieved a seventh clean sheet of the season, in nine matches. The only time they have conceded goals thus far in 2022 has been against Monaghan and Tyrone in the National League.

“Trying to get pressure further up the field is something we’re trying to focus on,” Clifford outlined.

“Of course, being hard to beat is a massive focus for us. You can see we’re making improvements there.

“[Paddy Tally] you have been brilliant. A brilliant coach, and a sound fella in fairness to him. It’s been great to have a fresh voice in there.”

Former Down manager and Galway coach Paddy Tally was brought into the backroom team by Jack O'Connor

Former Down manager and Galway coach Paddy Tally was brought into the backroom team by Jack O’Connor

Added responsibilities

Clifford was nominated by East Kerry to captain the Kingdom in 2020. Although since relinquishing the title, he remains a core leader in Jack O’Connor’s panel.

There is a lot of expectation, especially in Kerry. People love their football.

Clifford knows there is pressure to deliver

“I enjoyed it. It was a massive honour,” he said of the captaincy.

“We all know how 2020 shaped up with the Covid break and stuff like that. So it was a strange season. I enjoyed the role involved with it. Obviously there’s a bit of off-field stuff that you have to look after that I wasn’t ‘t maybe too fond of.

“But in the main, yeah, it’s a massive honour. Maybe not even for myself, but for my family and Fossa and stuff.

“You’re never going to pass on the opportunity to Captain Kerry, but it’s not something I’m too worried about.”

But with eight years now passed since Kerry’s last All-Ireland title, hunger is growing in the south-west.

“If you’re playing with an intercounty team, there is a lot of expectation, especially in Kerry,” he said. “People love their football. We don’t pay too much heed to the pressure. We just focus on working hard, and our next match.”

And as his stock on the field continues to rise, the 23-year-old has also adjusted to fatherhood.

“It is a change of pace,” he admitted, following the birth of his son Ógie. “He’s flying. It is a bit of a change, but it’s been hugely positive.

“There’s loads of fun attached to it too. That’s the thing I’ve found. It is very enjoyable. It’s hilarious at times. It’s class.”

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