Clifford hoping to be involved in bright Kerry future
*By Jackie Cahill *
David Clifford is happy for Kerry senior manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Under 20 boss Jack O’Connor to sort out his immediate inter-county future.
On Saturday, Clifford collected the Electric Ireland Minor Star Footballer of the Year award at Croke Park – and confirmed that he’s staying put in Ireland for now.
O’Connor would dearly love to have Clifford available for an assault on Under 20 honours, but it’s anticipated that the deadly forward will be fast-tracked into Fitzmaurice’s senior set-up.
Clifford, who will be 19 next January, brought the curtain down on his inter-county minor career with two All-Ireland medals and a burgeoning reputation.
He bagged 1-10 in Kerry’s semi-final win over Cavan and notched an incredible 4-4 when the Kingdom claimed the four-in-a-row with victory against Derry.
Clifford was in action for Fossa yesterday against Firies in the O’Donoghue Cup East Kerry senior championship – and says that he’s had a “brief” conversation with Fitzmaurice in the wake of his minor heroics.
Clifford explained: “He briefly congratulated me. Maybe he’ll be in touch, maybe he won’t. We’ll see how it goes.”
Clifford admits that he’s been happy with his recent form, but added: “It’s about continuing that and improving.
“I still have a lot of improving to make, there are no guarantees that making it at minor is going to push you onto a senior team. I still have a lot of hard work to do.
“I’m staying put, that’s the main thing. To be honest, playing for Kerry was always a dream of mine so any opportunity I got to do that, I was going to jump at it.
“Whichever step the management teams decide to take, I’ll be delighted to go along with that.
“There’s plenty of time there yet so whatever team it is, I don’t mind.”
Clifford was one of eight Kerry players named on the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Football Team of the Year – and he collected the player of the year gong at the weekend.
He said: “It’s a special personal award for myself and it’s nice to be recognised, but the most important thing is the team, and the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year.
“It’s nice to see everyone honoured. It was a nice idea by Electric Ireland and we were at the launch earlier on in the year thinking how nice a feeling it would be to win one. So, to end up winning one is very special.”
Clifford insists that he’s “fine” with the growing attention surrounding his scoring exploits.
He smiled: “It’s fine, there’s a lot of fellas around my home place will bring me back down to earth with a bump so it doesn’t last too long.
“I remember the night after the All-Ireland, the Monday night, I spent the night in Fossa with my friends and that was just a special memory for me, just to get away from everything.
“Obviously meeting people and letting them congratulate you is special but you need a bit of down time to yourself as well.”
And while he acknowledges that the future appears very bright for Kerry, Clifford admits that underage success doesn’t offer any guarantees.
He said: “There’s a lot of hard work gone into development squads up along.
"We would have been together in development squads since Under 14, between Kerry North and Kerry South, a lot of work gone in there.
"The future of Kerry is bright, but I’m sure every county is saying the same thing so it doesn’t guarantee success at any level.”