David Clifford is probably the most intriguing footballer in Ireland.
Marked out from before he was old enough to drive as a star in the making, the Kingdom captain has done nothing to dampen those expectations following two highly successful debut seasons playing senior inter-county football.
The Kerry forward is already recognised as one of the best players in the game with many already talking about him potentially going down as the greatest ever, huge talk for a young man of such limited experience.
It speaks volume of Clifford’s class. He’s constantly talked about as one of the toughest in the game to mark but who is the toughest opponent he has ever been marked by?
GOAL! David Clifford with a goal for East Kerry! pic.twitter.com/qKT79pAKlG
— The GAA (@officialgaa) October 19, 2019
The 21-year-old sat down for an interesting “Ask Me Anything” segment with GMHD.ie over the weekend where he answered a number of intriguing questions, from his favourite sporting moment outside his own achievements to his dealings with the AFL[ spoiler alert, there wasn’t any, surprisingly].
Clifford was asked, however, who the toughest opponent he had faced in senior championship football with Kerry and his answer might surprise many as he chose Clare’s veteran corner-back Gordon Kelly.
“Yeah, there’s been a few, I suppose. I’ve marked a fella from Clare, his name’s Gordon Kelly. I’ve marked him for the last two years in a row. He’s tough, he’s very experienced… he’s cute we’ll say but yeah, I’d say he’s been the toughest I’ve marked, to be honest.”
With this year’s championship campaign very much hanging by a thread, the 2018 Young Footballer of the Year admitted that he’s remaining hopeful of returning to championship action before the year is out.
“I am [hopeful]. I think the news that came out on Friday from Leo Varadkar was definitely positive and gave us a focal point and something to look forward to,” said the Fossa forward.
David Clifford's goal was a thing of beauty!
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) January 25, 2020
“It was probably looking very unlikely for the last few weeks. But even just having the chance to play anything behind closed doors or not would be massive. I’m hopeful enough that there’ll be a championship in some form.”
Clifford admitted it would be strange playing games behind closed doors, however, he believes if, given the ultimatum, the players would have no problem with it.
“It would be strange [playing behind closed doors]. I suppose it’s obviously what drives you on and you feed off the crowd, and get a massive lift off the crowd at times.
— Adam Moynihan (@AdamMoynihan) May 5, 2020
“But I suppose, look, it’s something I’ve been thinking about and a lot of fellas are of the belief that if you had a choice of playing behind closed doors or not playing at all, I think everyone would choose to play behind closed doors. Obviously, that’s not the ideal scenario but if that was the last resort, I think fellas would have no problem with it.”
Clifford carried his All-Star form of 2018 and 2019 into the recent club season where he guided East Kerry to a first county senior championship since 1999. The amalgamated side is littered with talent, many of whom played alongside Clifford in St. Brendan’s College Killarney’s successful Hogan Cup-winning side of 2016, a moment Clifford admits to being the highlight of his career.
As a result of East Kerry’s county championship win, Clifford was nominated as Kerry county captain with the Fossa club man revealing that he received the offer from Peter Keane a few days before it was announced.
It was an opportunity he jumped at and while Clifford knows the Kerry dressing room has plenty of leaders, it’s a huge honour for him to lead the team out.
“Yeah, I suppose there was a lot of speculation there for a while but Peter [Keane] just gave me a call a couple of days before it was announced. He asked me would I be willing to do it and would I want to do it? And of course, I’ve jumped at the opportunity.
Kerry Senior Football Manager, Peter Keane, with Kerry Senior Football Captain, David Clifford at this afternoon's photoshoot at Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence in Currans.
— Kerry GAA (@Kerry_Official) January 20, 2020
“It’s been great so far, we’d a fairly successful start to the league but it didn’t change a whole pile to what I was doing individually or anything. I wasn’t going to be changing the way I was or anything like that> I said it before in an interview, there’s a lot of leaders in Kerry dressing room and they’re going to do their thing.
“But it has been a great honour to lead the boys out in different games and things like that have been great.”
You can watch the full “Ask Me Anything” segment with Kerry captain David Clifford below.