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Despite all the attention, David Clifford remains totally at ease

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by Adam Moynihan

It's not something that most of us - the mere mortals of this world - have ever had to worry about, but being double-marked looks like a complete pain in the arse. It's annoying enough having one sticky back breathing on your neck without having another spoilsport blocking your supply lines from the front.

Kerry superstar David Clifford isn't one of us, though, so naturally enough he's enjoying it.

Speaking via Zoom from Croke Park (the Fossa native was there to launch SuperValu's #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign), Clifford was typically breezy when it came to the topic of rivals doing anything and everything in their power to stop him.

"That’s something we’ve started to come across and will continue to come across," the 23-year-old said when asked about Cork playing two defenders on him in last weekend’s Munster semi-final.

"It’s [about] trying to find solutions, trying to have as many scoring threats as we can. They can’t double-mark everyone, d’you know what I mean?

"It’s obviously tricky and that brings its challenges but trying to find ways around it is enjoyable too."

Clifford is arguably the standout Gaelic football talent of the modern era and witnessing him in full flow must be one of the most joyous experiences in sport. It therefore stands to reason that seeing him getting corralled and penned in by two opponents is one of the most horrid.

Watching him the last day was like watching a lion in a zoo. It’s always cool to see the king of the jungle but keeping him in a cage just doesn’t sit right.

Of course, Cork are perfectly entitled to set up however they want. And for much of the match - the first half in particular - their gameplan worked. Clifford was on the periphery, limited to a single point from play. As the soon-to-be-qualified PE teacher alluded to today, the onus is on Kerry to find other ways to score when they simply cannot get the ball into his hands.

The fact that Kerry’s other forwards scored 0-18 against Cork shows that they are capable of doing it. The fact that Kerry failed to get over the line when Clifford was sidelined for extra time against Tyrone last September shows that they still have a point to prove against the bigger teams.

Clifford was at ease during his 22-minute chat with myself and other print journalists, deftly sidestepping potentially loaded questions like they were hapless defenders clutching at the air around him. A dummy solo past the championship structure debate. A pirouette around the Kerry captaincy issue. A quick turn of pace left my query about the significance of potentially winning this year’s All-Ireland for dead.

He is certainly a lot more comfortable in front of the media now than the David Clifford who burst onto the senior intercounty scene in 2018. Back then, he was wide-eyed and slightly nonplussed by it all. Now, he pretty much has it (us?) all figured out.

But there was still plenty to feed on from today’s briefing. He spoke of his infant son, Óigí, and how becoming a father has put life into perspective for him.

“It’s a change but it’s massively enjoyable. There’s great fun attached to it. It feels like sport is everything and we put everything into it but health and family take a priority."

When asked if seeing his child after a disappointing performance helps, the former MTU Kerry student said that it does. “Óigí doesn’t tend to be too worried about whether we’ve won or not!”

He also spoke about avoiding the hype. Many observers rate him as the best player in the country. Others (including this writer) have publicly stated that he could well be the best they’ve ever seen.

“I haven’t paid too much attention to it, or haven’t seen a whole pile of it,” Clifford insisted. “I’m not on social media really and that’s probably a good thing.”

Perhaps most interesting of all were his insights into his own thought processes. Where does his focus lie? Does he always have football on the brain, or can he switch off?

“I’m just trying to focus on a game-to-game basis. There’s still plenty of stuff to work on.

“Throughout the league you’re just trying to get minutes into the legs, and things come so thick and fast that you don’t have much time to think. The time between the games [during championship] is good to reflect.

“[But] it can be hard to put games to the back of your mind. I’m trying to work on that – to try and be focussed when you need to be focussed and to step away when you need to step away.”

Is there room for improvement in his game?

“Yeah, 100%. Trying to get that consistency of performance is a big focus for me.”

Most would argue that he has been pretty consistent so far in his young career. If he can make improvements in that department, keeping him in his cage might become a three-man job.

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Donaghy’s move to Roscommon “absolute rubbish”

By Sean Moriarty Kieran Donaghy has labelled news reports that he is to become the manager of the Roscommon football team as “absolute rubbish”. Several news outlets, including locally based […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Kieran Donaghy has labelled news reports that he is to become the manager of the Roscommon football team as “absolute rubbish”.

Several news outlets, including locally based media, ran stories on Monday night saying the four-time All-Ireland was set to take over as the Roscommon boss.

Almost as quick as the news reports were published Donaghy took to Twitter to correct them.

“Absolute rubbish,” he tweeted.

“I did not speak to one single person associated with Roscommon GAA. What has happened to fact checking a story these days.”

Donaghy has been part of the Armagh county set-up for the last two seasons. He is also preparing for another season in the Irish Basketball Superleague with Tralee Warriors at the age of 39.

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Ireland’s newest and toughest cycle will be a thrilling challenge

Ireland’s newest cycling event comes to Kenmare this month with an exciting and challenging course for the experienced cyclist. Already attracting attention within cycling communities around the country, Velo Kenmare […]

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Ireland’s newest cycling event comes to Kenmare this month with an exciting and challenging course for the experienced cyclist.

Already attracting attention within cycling communities around the country, Velo Kenmare will tackle some of Kerry’s toughest climbs and highest mountain passes.

Taking place on October 22, Velo Kenmare is an 135km timed loop route starting and finishing in Kenmare. The total climbing distance is 1,650m, and organisers hope to appeal to serious cyclists who are looking for a new and thrilling challenge.

No stranger to cycling events, Velo Kenmare is being managed by Elite Events Management, who also successfully deliver iconic cycling events Wicklow 200, Ride Dingle and the Ring of Beara Cycle.
Cyclists are encouraged to register for Velo Kenmare on the Velo Cycle Ireland website www.velocycleireland.ie but places are limited for the enjoyment and safety of all participants, and anyone interested is urged to sign up soon as places are filling up.

TOUGH CLIMBS

​​​​The tough enough mountain climbs are over Molls Gap, Ballaghbeama Pass, Ballaghasheen and Coomakista. The route will take in breathtaking scenery Kenmare is famous for, and incorporating some of the most stunning parts of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ring of Kerry. It is hoped visitors to the cycle event will be encouraged to stay for a few days, and will all be given €20 vouchers or ‘Velo Dollars’ to spend in local shops which will be redeemable against goods and services in Kenmare.

Riders will be allotted a time slot to allow for a staggered start, taking them along a fully marshalled route, with medical cover, bike mechanic support, and hot food and entertainment at the finish in Kenmare.

Making its mark, Velo Kenmare participant race packs will come inside a yellow Velo Kenmare water bottle and finishers’ medals are in the shape of a yellow cow bell. Prizes will be awarded for the quickest top three male and top three female finishers, and fastest male and female will be awarded the title of King and Queen of the Kerry Mountains.

Experienced cyclists are encouraged to take on this exciting new challenge, testing themselves and their clubmates for the fastest finish across these four gruelling climbs, through some of the most beautiful landscape in the country for the best welcome back at the finish.

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