David Clifford pictured at the launch of SuperValu’s #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign in Croke Park.
David Clifford pictured at the launch of SuperValu’s #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign in Croke Park.

Clifford up for challenge of being double-marked


By John Harrington

Kerry star David Clifford knows that being double-marked is an opposition tactic he’s going to have to get used to.

The Cork defence did a better job than most nullifying him in last weekend’s Munster semi-final as direct man-marker, Kevin Flahive, with the help of his team-mates held Clifford to a single point from play.

It was very obvious that Cork had worked hard on ensuring there was always a player behind and in front of Clifford as much as possible to prevent him racing onto the angled deliveries he usually makes the most of.

Limiting his influence in this way is often easier said than done, but Clifford knows it’s a ploy he’ll have to find a way to overcome.

“Yeah exactly, it is,” said Clifford today at the launch of SuperValu’s #CommunityIncludesEveryone campaign.

“Certain teams are going to have their styles. Obviously it's going to be a bit more open some days. But trying to find ways around the plus-one or plus-two is a good challenge, and it's something I haven't fully cracked yet, so it's nice to keep working on that.

“Trying to get that consistency of performance is something to strive for. But also it's important that with Kerry, we have a massive spread of forwards. So if it's not me that's going to do the damage, there's plenty of other people to do it.

“I suppose I've missed a few goal chances against Cork the last few years. But sure look, that just comes with the territory. That's football. It's always been a tough challenge against them.”

David Clifford of Kerry in action against Cork players, from left, Kevin Flahive, Sean Powter and Steven Sherlock during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui Rinn in Cork. 
David Clifford of Kerry in action against Cork players, from left, Kevin Flahive, Sean Powter and Steven Sherlock during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Cork and Kerry at Páirc Ui Rinn in Cork. 

Kerry struggled to play with their usual fluency for the first 50 minutes of the Munster semi-final by which time they led Cork but just a single point.

They ultimately outscored the Rebels by 0-12 to 0-1 from there until the final whistle, and Clifford believes their strong finish was thanks to the impact of experienced substitutes like Paul Geaney, David Moran, and Paul Murphy.

“We got a massive boost off the bench,” he said. “Particularly the experienced fellas, which is great.

“Some of them have been struggling for fitness throughout the league. To have them back in, brings a bit of depth. But it also brings a massive amount of competition too within the camp which is good.

“It was nice to come out the right side of it. It was a tough battle. It was exactly what we expected from Cork, so it was nice. Plenty of things to work on obviously, but it was nice to get out of it.”

This year’s Championship campaign is a different test for this Kerry team in so far as they are favourites to win it, a burden normally borne by Dublin.

Clifford doesn’t believe that sort of expectancy will weigh him and his team-mates down.

“If you're playing with an inter-county team, there is a lot of expectation, especially in Kerry,” he says.

“People love their football. We don't pay too much heed to the pressure. We just focus on working hard, and our next match."