David Clifford aiming to be the difference maker for Kerry

Kerry fans were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief this week upon hearing the news that David Clifford will be fit enough to feature in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 11th. Although he failed to make an appearance in their recent victory over Meath, the Tralee-born 20-year old has been passed to play this weekend, and he could be the man to help break down a stubborn Tyrone side at Croke Park. 

Clifford was first spotted at U14 level by former star Sean O’Sullivan, who predicted that the forward was destined for greater things. The All-Ireland winner recalls how this future star “stood out head and shoulders above everybody else on the pitch”, and he was already beginning to attract significant interest from other clubs. He continued his rapid rate of development over the next couple of years, and scored 2-5 in the All-Ireland Colleges Senior Football A Final, which was his first experience of competing at Croke Park. He was selected for the Kerry minor team just weeks later, and his progression has shown very few signs of slowing down ever since. 

His inclusion in the 2018 PwC All-Star team as corner forward was further evidence of his ever-growing reputation in the game. He became the first Fossa man to receive this prestigious award, and this proved to be a thoroughly momentous occasion for his local club. 

He may still be one of the youngest players in the Kerry side, but he’s quickly become a vital component since making the step up to senior football, and he is highly likely to take centre stage once again against Tyrone. Manager Peter Keane is delighted to welcome the youngster back into the fold, and his raw energy and quick thinking could be the key to unlocking their opponents’ water-tight defence. Tyrone’s back-line tends to maintain its rigid defensive shape very effectively, thus making it difficult for the opposition to find big enough gaps to breakthrough. Kerry have been installed as the 5/1 second-favourites in the Gaelic Football betting markets to go all the way this year, and they have also been widely tipped to edge past the Ulster club on Sunday.

The Kingdom have a greater array of offensive weapons at their disposal, with Clifford just one of many talented forwards in the squad, although some questions have been asked of their defence in recent months. It’s a game that could easily be decided by a moment of individual brilliance, and there’s only one player who is likely to step up to the plate. 

Kerry will have to be wary of Tyrone’s counter-attacking style, and they can’t afford to take their eye off the ball or get complacent at any stage. The Reds and Whites have had to endure a hectic schedule in recent weeks, which has seen them play five consecutive games on the road, but the recent break has afforded them the opportunity to get key players back to full fitness. 

It is one of the great rivalries in the game, and on current evidence, there looks to be very little between them. The brilliance of David Clifford could easily swing this tie in favour of Kerry, and he will be hoping to take centre stage once again. The forward is a significant talent, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him step up and fire his side into the All-Ireland final this year. 

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