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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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Lough Lein anglers enjoy annual charity day 

It’s always a popular event, and Sunday was no different for the members of the Lough Lein Anglers Association. The Killarney club, one of the longest established fishing clubs in Ireland, […]

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It’s always a popular event, and Sunday was no different for the members of the Lough Lein Anglers Association.

The Killarney club, one of the longest established fishing clubs in Ireland, held their 34th annual charity open fly fishing competition known simply as ‘The Charity’.

It’s part of the angling tradition in the club and is always the most popular event on the fly fishing calendar in Ireland.

Spearheaded by Timo O’Sullivan, to date the anglers have raised in excess of €229,000 for deserving charities in Kerry and Cork. The main sponsor of the event is Lee Strand Co-op, Tralee.

This year’s deserving beneficiaries are the Kerry Hospice Foundation and The Saoirse Foundation – BUMBLEance.

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‘What Louise said was bang on’ – Kerry ladies back Ní Mhuircheartaigh in facilities row

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by Adam Moynihan

The Kerry ladies are “100%” behind Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh following her comments about the team’s limited access to Kerry GAA’s Centre of Excellence in Currans.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh caused a stir late last week when she revealed that she and her teammates have not been allowed to train at the state-of-the-art facility, which is owned and operated by the men’s county board.

Kerry’s star forward described the lack of access as “annoying”, especially considering the fact that a large photograph of her adorns the entrance to the facility.

Speaking exclusively to this journalist on The Kerry Football Podcast, Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s teammate Kayleigh Cronin confirmed that the whole team are on the same page on this issue.

“I think what Louise said was bang on and we all 100% agree with it,” Cronin said.

“She was put in a bit of a tough position being asked about it, but what she got off her chest is 100% what the team feels. And I can say with certainty that I can speak on behalf of not only all the girls in the dressing room but the backroom team and management as well in saying that what Louise has said is all of our opinions.

“What’s said is said now. We’ll leave it out there for everyone else to be thinking about and to be talking about. Hopefully the county boards can sort it out between themselves. As far as we’re concerned, that’s us done with it.”

In the wake of Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s comments, Kerry GAA released a statement via Balls.ie:

“Kerry GAA have been in discussions with the Kerry LGFA in relation to their use of the Centre of Excellence facilities in Currans and the future development of one of the two undeveloped pitches in the complex for specific use by the Kerry LGFA and Kerry Camogie

“The Kerry LGFA have been accommodated with training facilities at the Centre of Excellence over the past number of years and this will continue to be the case.

“We look forward to working in close collaboration with Kerry LGFA to bring our collective future development plans to fruition.”

Dr Crokes star Cronin says she and her teammates are “absolutely” keen to see that happen.

“We had the pleasure of being in there prior to COVID. It’s an unbelievable facility. It’s obviously very central as well. So hopefully, fingers crossed, the county boards can work together and get the pitch in good nick, so that not only we can use it but the underage teams as well.

“It would be great to have a base to go from in the future.”

Cronin added that team are now focussing on Saturday’s Munster final against Cork, which takes place before the men’s final at 12.15pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium.

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