Former Kerry footballer Kieran Donaghy believes that David Clifford will have learned a “cheap lesson” following his controversial sending off in the Kingdom’s clash with Tyrone.
Clifford was shown a second yellow card for an off-the-ball incident with Tyrone’s Ben McDonnell, although replays appeared to suggest that it was the Kerry man who was hauled to the ground, with the red sparking outrage across the GAA world.
There have been calls for more protection for forwards, with former Tyrone star Owen Mulligan outlining that he feels Clifford’s teammates should take a page out of Barcelona’s book, however, Donaghy believes the constant treatment from defenders is something the Kerry captain is going to have to learn to live with.
Speaking to Pundit Arena at the launch of the new TG4 Laochra Gael series on Tuesday, Donaghy outlined that despite the sending off being unfortunate, Clifford will have learned a lesson from it.
“I think it’s a cheap lesson for him. He’ll know now that if he’s on a yellow (to be careful). We all have to do it, I had to do it but especially a young player like him whose being targeted by opposition players, he’s going to have to learn to manage that, I used to always try and stay away from a yellow card early in the game because I needed to be on the edge, I needed to be raw.
“It took an awful lot away from my game when I was yellow carded. David is a good footballer, that he can go and beat you with just football but when you are getting a lot of treatment like he is you have to stand up for yourself. It was unfortunate for him the last day the way it happened, he ended up getting pulled to the ground, he’ll learn a lesson from that too.”
Donaghy also outlined that he felt it was almost a blessing in disguise that an incident like this happened in a league game towards the beginning of the season as opposed to a Championship clash in Croke Park.
“Learning a lesson above in Edendork in February is not a bad place to learn one of those lessons. It’s a lot worse when you do it in Croke Park in a big game because you can’t get that back, whereas he’ll know now and referees will know now too what’s going on with incidents like that.
“It’s highlighted a lot of things and I think it’s a good learning curve for David and it’s a good learning curve for the referees.”
As someone who has been in Clifford’s shoes, how difficult does Donaghy feel it will be for the 21-year-old to block out the noise and not get caught up in defenders’ tricks?
“It’s hard, there’s no doubt about it. From what I’ve seen he’s kind of realising as their jostling that ‘I’m on a yellow here, I don’t want to be a part of this’ and the next thing he’s on his back on the ground and these county players are strong enough to pull you onto the ground if they want to get you onto the ground.
“I thought he showed remarkable restraint, he was on the ground, getting kneed and getting his head shoved into the ground and he had his two hands up, making it, what I felt, very obvious to the umpire that he’s not doing anything here. It’s a great lesson I think for everybody. “