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Clinical Clifford puts Mayo to the sword



Adam Moynihan reports from Croke Park, Dublin

National League: Division 1 Final

Kerry 3-19 Mayo 0-13

Croke Park

Another wondrous display by David Clifford helped Kerry to a surprisingly comprehensive victory over Mayo in today’s National League Division 1 final.

Clifford was simply sensational on the day, tormenting his marker Pádraig O’Hora and scoring six points and a classy goal the process.

For Mayo, the only real positive was the return of long-term injury concern Cillian O’Connor. The championship’s all-time leadings scorer received a warm Croke Park welcome when he was introduced as a substitute in the 56th minute but not even he could penetrate Kerry’s mean defensive unit.

In truth, Kerry were dominant all over the pitch as they retained their league title and secured a unique two-and-a-half-in-a-row.


Points by David Clifford, Stephen O’Brien and Adrian Spillane gave Kerry a 3-2 lead by the 10-minute mark but it could (and, perhaps, should) have been much more. Paudie Clifford failed to convert a goal chance in the 5th minute and then Tadhg Morley squared for David Clifford but the Mayo defence did enough to put him off.

Even so, scores by the Clifford brothers gave Kerry a three-point advantage, and points by James Carr and Jordan Flynn were cancelled out by Paul Geaney and Jack Barry to leave the scores at 0-7 to 0-4 with 20 minutes on the clock.

Kerry welcomed Gavin White back into the starting line-up and the incredibly pacy wing back cause the opposition all sorts of problems in that first half. White’s efforts were rewarded in the 24th minute when he bravely reached for Paul Geaney’s deflected shot and palmed home Kerry’s first goal of the game. He received a severe whack in the face for his troubles and had to leave the field, but thankfully he returned later in the half.

That goal put some daylight between the sides and The Kingdom never looked back. David Clifford launched over another beauty to make it a seven-point game and although Mayo went on a mini-run with points by Ryan O’Donoghue, James Carr and Conor Loftus, it was Kerry who finished the half in the ascendency.

David Clifford brushed aside the challenge of O’Hora to chalk up his fourth of the day and then goalkeeper Shane Ryan marched forward to send over a spectacular free from way out on the Cusack Stand sideline. Ryan’s point would prove to be the last of the period and Kerry went in six points to the good (1-10 to 0-7).


Despite some fine scores from Michael Plunkett and Ryan O’Donoghue (two), Mayo were unable to eat into Kerry’s lead in the third quarter. Paul Geaney (two) and a Paudie Clifford 45 kept The Kingdom ticking over and when things opened up for Dara Moynihan in the 49th minute, he made no mistake to widen the gap to seven.

Kerry were dealt a blow in the 51st minute when Diarmuid O’Connor received a black card and when O’Donoghue scored again, Mayo were dreaming of a comeback. It was the Kerry faithful who liked what they saw next, however, as their boys rattled off 1-5 without reply to put the outcome of this final beyond doubt.

First the younger Clifford fired over a superb point from a tricky angle, and then Adrian Spillane scored an excellent solo effort after he was picked out by his half forward line colleague Moynihan. Paul Geaney picked off another fine score in the 57th minute before the walking highlight reel, David Clifford, buried the opposition almost singlehandedly.

Clifford had O’Hora hanging off him and chatting into his ear all day but the Fossa superstar did his talking with ball in hand. After receiving a pass from Tony Brosnan, he breezed by his Mayo marker and popped over his sixth point. Then, in the 66th minute, he left O’Hora eating dust before dispatching a perfectly placed right-footed shot beyond the reach of Rory Byrne in the Mayo goal. The score now read 2-18 to 0-11 and Kerry had two hands on the cup.

Geaney added his fifth point and then, two minutes into stoppage time, Jason Foley sprinted 136 metres to gather a deflected shot and score Kerry’s third goal of the game. Foley was one of Kerry’s best performers throughout the league and speaking to the media after the game, Jack O’Connor noted that it was only fitting that the Ballydonogue man should round off the campaign in style.

Afterwards, stand-in captain and Man of the Match David Clifford and captain Joe O’Connor lifted the Division 1 cup together. Kerry supporters will be hoping that it’s not the last time the pair get their hands on silverware this season.

KERRY: S Ryan (0-1f); G O’Sullivan, J Foley (1-0), T O'Sullivan; G White (1-0), T Morley, B Ó Beaglaoich; D O’Connor, J Barry (0-1); D Moynihan (0-1), P Clifford (0-2, 1 ‘45), A Spillane (0-2); S O’Brien (0-1), D Clifford (1-6, 1f), P Geaney (0-5, 1f).

Subs: G Crowley for White (temp 27-32), T Brosnan for O’Brien (49), G Crowley for White (53), M Burns for Spillane (63), J O’Connor for Barry (67), J Savage for Moynihan (67).

MAYO: R Byrne; L Keegan, S Coen, P O’Hora; M Plunkett (0-2), R Brickenden, E Hession; J Flynn (0-1), M Ruane (0-1); C Loftus (0-1), A O’Shea, J Carney; J Carr (0-2), J Doherty, R O’Donoghue (0-5, 2f).

Subs: K McLoughlin for Carney (HT), C O’Shea for Flynn (47), A Orme for Doherty (50), C O’Connor for Carr (56), D McHale for Ruane (67).

Attendance: 31,506


If Big Sam hates the present so much, why should we entrust him with Ireland’s future?



by Adam Moynihan

Yesterday, by complete coincidence, I consumed two pieces of media that focussed on brash, larger than life Englishmen.

The first was a Second Captains interview with football manager Sam Allardyce and the second was a 2006 Channel 4 documentary about Roy Chubby Brown, aka Britain’s rudest comedian.

For those unfamiliar with Brown’s work, “rude” is a very kind way of describing his frankly awful brand of outrageously offensive comedy. Many of his jokes cannot be repeated here but the narrator of the documentary sums him up well when he notes that, “on stage [Brown] uses themes that most other comedians discarded several decades ago”. He developed a significant following regardless, making millions of pounds off his live gigs, VHS tapes and DVDs.

I was struck by the many similarities between Allardyce and Brown, two controversial celebrities whose success has never been greeted with the acclaim they feel it deserves.

Allardyce is considered one of the leading candidates for the vacant Ireland managerial post and, when prompted by host Eoin McDevitt, he willingly threw his hat into the ring at a Second Captains live show in Dublin. The former Bolton, West Ham and England boss was initially given a warm welcome by the audience but McDevitt and co-hosts Ciarán Murphy and Ken Early subsequently pointed out that the atmosphere soured as the interview wore on.

Allardyce certainly has a tendency to rub people up the wrong way. He and Roy Chubby Brown have that in common. But that’s not where the parallels end.

Perhaps the most tangible link is both men’s aversion to foreigners. Brown frequently takes jabs at immigrants as part of his routine, while Big Sam is vociferously opposed to non-English managers and owners coming to the Premier League and, in his words, “pinching our jobs”. While Allardyce is obviously nowhere near as overtly xenophobic as Brown, that particular remark is exactly like one of Brown’s gags, albeit without the punchline.

Like Brown, Allardyce rails against modernity and refuses to accept that times change. He claims we have all been brainwashed into thinking that possession football is good in much the same way that Brown believes we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that taking the piss out of minorities is bad.

In taking that stance, they both reveal how out of touch they are with the majority of the population. (The classic Principal Skinner line “no, it’s the children who are wrong” springs to mind.) Instead of adapting their approach and moving with the times, they remain devoutly true to their methods, however outdated the rest of the world deems them to be. Emboldened by a small cult following of Little Englanders, they lack the self-awareness to realise why they are out of favour with everyone else. And they’re not for changing.

Allardyce, who lost his England job after just 67 days due to alleged professional malpractice, favours a direct style of football. There may be a time and place for such an approach but most people prefer to watch possession-based football, and most players prefer to play it. It’s not a global conspiracy to do old-style managers like Allardyce out of a job. “Tippy tappy football”, as Big Sam calls it, is popular for a reason.

In the documentary, Brown (then 61) laments the fact that he hasn’t been on TV in 18 years. The audiences at his live shows are dwindling and the money coming in isn’t covering his expenditure. But, of course, he and his material are not to blame. Society is the problem.

(The Middlesbrough native is still performing, incidentally, although earlier this year a number of his shows were cancelled. His manager accused venues of “bowing to the woke/snowflake pressure”.)

Allardyce’s best days are more than likely behind him too. His career peaked in the mid-2000s when he brought Bolton all the way to Europe. That was a fantastic achievement but in football terms it’s a lifetime ago.

As I reflected on the interview and the documentary, it occurred to me that giving the Ireland job to Sam Allardyce would, in a way, be like giving The Late Late Show job to Roy Chubby Brown. What message would that put out? What values would it promote?

More importantly, why should we entrust the future of Irish football to someone who clearly despises the modern game?

If that’s how he feels about the present, imagine how he’ll feel about whatever comes next.


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Fossa on cusp of history as club from ‘nine square miles’ eyes senior status



Kerry IFC Final

Fossa v Milltown/Castlemaine

Sunday 2.30pm

Austin Stack Park

Never before in the history of Kerry football has an Intermediate final attracted so much attention.

On Sunday, two clubs go head-to-head with a trophy and promotion on the line – but this high-profile encounter has far more riding on it than that.

In fact, the consequences of the outcome of this second-tier decider are going to be massive. If Fossa win, they will graduate to senior for the first time in their 53-year existence. It would represent a monumental achievement for the club from the small parish to the northwest of Killarney; few, if any, believed it would ever be possible given their lowly standing as recently as a few years ago.

With two generational talents at their disposal in the form of the Clifford brothers from Two Mile, they have rapidly risen through the ranks. Now they are seeking their second successive promotion following on from last year’s extra time win over Listry in the Junior Premier final.

And if the idea of Fossa going out on their own in the Kery Senior Football Championship wasn’t intriguing enough on its own, there’s more. A Fossa win would mean that East Kerry, winners of four of the last five titles, would lose their Fossa contingent for 2024. Most notable amongst that cohort are Paudie and David Clifford, unquestionably the district’s two most influential players.

There is plenty of intrigue from Milltown/Castlemaine’s perspective too. The Mid Kerry side are aiming to get back to senior level for the first time since being relegated in 2016 following defeat to Kilcummin in a playoff. They were not considered to be amongst the frontrunners for this competition before a ball was kicked, and possibly not after the group stage either, so victory this weekend would be sweet.

Of course, a Milltown/Castlemaine win would also have a huge bearing on the 2024 County Championship. Mid Kerry (runners-up in 2020, 2022 and 2023) stand to lose five starters if Milltown are promoted: Pa Wrenn, David Roche, Gavin Horan, Cillian Burke and Éanna O’Connor. Such a loss would greatly weaken their hand and widen the gap that already exists between them and the reigning champions. Add to that the fact that East Kerry will keep the Cliffords if Milltown/Castlemaine win, and the significance of this game is magnified further still.

There is so much at stake for all the invested parties in East and Mid Kerry, and there is plenty to consider for the neutral fan as well. Many would welcome the weakening of East Kerry’s squad as it would potentially lead to a more competitive County Championship. However, there is serious concern amongst Kerry supporters that the Cliffords are in need of a rest after a long couple of years with club and county. If Fossa prevail they will advance to the Munster Championship and possibly beyond if they manage to keep on winning. This would likely interfere with their star players’ off-season.

There’s no doubt that the nature of Fossa’s matches to date have whetted the appetite for this final. They were involved in exhilarating extra time victories over Castleisland and Austin Stacks in the previous rounds and more excitement of that nature would be more than welcome after a largely disappointing County Championship.

Milltown/Castlemaine also bring plenty to the table and although the momentum from their own semi-final heroics against Legion may have dwindled somewhat over the many weeks between then and now, they can certainly take heart from that result against one of the pre-tournament favourites.

It’s all set up to be a fascinating match-up and a large crowd is expected in Tralee for this one.

The match will also be streamed live by Clubber.

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