‘It was nice to get a prolonged break’ – Kerry’s attacking star aiming to impact again in 2019
YEAR ONE SAW him light up the senior Gaelic football landscape, year two began on Saturday evening for David Clifford with the task of trying to match that high bar he had set for himself.
The 20-year-old picked off 0-3 in Ennis as Kerry got their 2019 summer up and running.
Amidst a blaze of hype after his underage and schools exploits, he began last summer on the adult beat and packed a fair bit into his debut offering. A Munster medal was picked up in June and while Kerry bowed out of the Super 8s, Clifford was in dazzling form as he amassed 4-14 in three games with the goal he squeezed in to salvage a draw in Clones providing confirmation of his value to the Kingdom cause.
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Now the challenge is to maintain those standards but he arrives in this championship in a refreshed state. The winter was spent repairing a damaged shoulder and he was nursed back to full fitness in the spring. The comeback took place toward the tail end of Kerry’s league campaign, a Croke Park final with Mayo a major occasion to grace.
And the hope is that he can reap the rewards of some downtime from playing.
“I was itching to get back,” outlines Clifford.
“Obviously the league final probably didn’t go as we’d have liked it. It was great to get a bit of football into me before the championship.
“I played three or four league games for the club in April as well so they were massive just getting a bit of football under my belt. So yeah the body’s perfect thank God.
“It was nice to get a prolonged break, between club football and everything it was nice to get an extended pre-season to work on everything. Just to put a bit of extra focus into everything in my game, that was great.”
David Clifford in action for Kerry against Mayo in the Division 1 league final.
Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Clifford may have settled impressively to the demands of the inter-county game last summer but he is keen to credit those who helped him find his feet.
“The experienced players are great and just basically showing you the ropes.
“The likes of Kieran Donaghy and I used to travel to a lot of training (sessions) with Kevin McCarthy, he’d been on the panel for a few years before it. So they were very big, basically just telling you what was in store.
“I suppose whether a session is going to be tough or not, what we’re going to be doing for the next two or three weeks, maybe bit of advice here or there if you did something well, maybe something they thought you could work on. It was great to have fellas like them there.”
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Kerry ran out six-point winners over Clare in Saturday’s semi-final but it wasn’t a blinding performance in their opener as their scoreboard advantage was whittled away in the second half.
“Clare got a massive foothold around the middle,” outlined Clifford.
“Gary Brennan played across and had a massive impact on it, a player like him I suppose is always going to have an impact on a game so just trying to limit him really to what damage he can do.
“Probably a few different reasons. I don’t know, we just seemed to get a bit sloppy. But I suppose it’s always good to have a bit of room for improvement and something to work on.”
David Clifford hit 0-3 in Kerry’s win over Clare on Saturday in Ennis.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Next up Kerry renew acquaintances with Cork after swatting them aside when the teams met in last year’s Munster decider.
“Cork had a massive win. As you can see with Tipperary in the hurling, they probably didn’t have a brain-storming league but they’ve been unbelievable so far in the championship.
“So it’s very hard to know what you’re going to get with teams until you see them in the championship so it’ll be a massive challenge now going to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“It’s always tough when you’re going in to another team’s backyard so it just adds to the challenge again I think.”
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