Eoin Liston: Graduation to senior ranks the next logical step for Clifford as he follows in famous footsteps
After growing up alongside Ogie Moran, I didn't think I'd see a better underage player but David...
After growing up alongside Ogie Moran, I didn't think I'd see a better underage player but David...
No team has been capable of taking Dublin out of their comfort zone during this year's championship but they haven't come across a side like Mayo...
The easiest thing for Eamonn Fitzmaurice to do after Kerry's below-par performance last Sunday would be to overreact with sweeping changes...
Aidan O'Shea has often been an easy target for criticism when things aren't going right for Mayo...
If by some miracle neither Dublin or Kerry win this year's All-Ireland SFC title, it's generally assumed that Tyrone will be the benefactors but the hard facts don't back up this theory and the jury is still out on them.
Having played on the edge of the square for my entire Kerry career, it's probably only natural that I would have the height of respect for everything that Kieran Donaghy has done in the Kingdom jersey and, yet again, he proved how invaluable he is yesterday.
One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in front of a black and white television watching the three-in-a-row Galway team from '64-'66 and being inconsolable at the thought of Kerry greats like Mick O'Connell, Tom Long and Mick O'Dwyer finishing on the losing side.
The Cork footballers are the poor relation to the hurlers at the best of times but, right now, they must feel like a long-lost cousin.
When employed by the Munster Council in the 1980s to help promote football in some of the weaker counties in the province, I visited many places in Tipperary where they would gladly burst a football if they came across one.
Like all sport, championship football doesn't just build character, it reveals it.
As I left Fitzgerald Stadium yesterday, someone reminded me that it was 1979 the last time Kerry completed five Munster titles in a row when they also beat Cork.
It always drove Cork players and management crazy when Mick O'Dwyer would venture into the Rebel dressing-room after a titanic Munster SFC clash...
This wasn't just the league, for Kerry this meant everything.
With the hype cranking up ahead of Saturday's replay, GAA folk the length and breadth of the country would give anything to be privy to the thoughts of Stephen Rochford.
Met Éireann should be expecting plenty of anxious phone calls from Mayo supporters between now and Saturday week begging them to confirm that the heavens will open on the day of the All-Ireland SFC final replay because if it does, there's only one winner and the 65-year famine will be over.
A lot of people seem to have blinkers on and can't see that this Mayo team have beaten Dublin before, and could've beaten them 12 months ago, so they certainly have a chance on Sunday if they can learn lessons from the past month.
Fortune favours the brave and despite throwing the kitchen sink at the Dubs, their philosophy of all-out attack once again bore fruit when it really mattered most and, regrettably, Kerry just couldn't live with them.
Jim Gavin has said he's expecting a big Kerry challenge on Sunday and I guarantee you he won't be one bit disappointed. I've waxed lyrical about the Dubs all year and rightfully so - they're an exceptional team and deserve to be clear favourites given they've had the Indian sign over us since Stephen Cluxton's famous free in the 2011 All-Ireland final.
You have to take your hat off to the Dubs. Despite all the adversity: missing three All-Star defenders, Diarmuid Connolly's dismissal, Eoghan O'Gara's late red card and Donegal throwing the kitchen sink at them, their class still shone through.
After a few false starts and with the safety nets removed, the championship begins in earnest this Saturday.
You have to judge Kerry's All-Ireland credentials on what we've seen thus far this year and while yesterday's display didn't set the world alight and didn't leave anyone quaking in their boots, we still have the footballers to lift Sam Maguire.
Everyone is bemoaning the fact that Kerry face Clare again but this is a completely different game and I expect a completely different Kerry performance.
Four Munster titles in a row should be celebrated in Kerry, but instead many supporters left Killarney yesterday with more questions than answers and a degree of apprehension about the immediate future.
It's the Munster final but not as we know it. And certainly not the one we expected to be seeing this weekend.
There isn't a hope in hell that I would've had the same football career without the torturous training regime from my great friend Micko.
When I watched the replays of the Philly McMahon incident on the television on Sunday night, I got a horrible feeling in my stomach.
Every Kerry supporter was disappointed with the result of the All-Ireland final on Sunday, but I don't think many of us could say that we were surprised.
All year long I have been saying that Dublin look unstoppable and that they're the best team in the country.
All week long we've been listening to people say that this is a classic All-Ireland final and the game that everyone wanted to see.
Whether or not Cian O'Sullivan plays on Sunday week will have a huge bearing on the outcome of the All-Ireland final.
When Dublin were good yesterday, they were excellent. They controlled the game and having been six points up in the first half and seven up after the break, they had this game won twice.
At the moment, if Dublin and Mayo played ten times I'd expect the Dubs to win six of them. These are both very good teams and it's extremely close between them, but Dublin are just ahead.
There was plenty of talk after the final whistle about the performance of referee Maurice Deegan. Certainly, Tyrone fans might have felt a bit sore about some of the marginal calls that went Kerry's way.
The fear of losing to Tyrone in Croke Park on Sunday will make sure that Kerry aren't caught off guard.
It's interesting that football people always seem very quick to criticise the game and we often hear how poor the standard at inter-county level is.
How quickly things change. Last week I still had Dublin as hot favourites to win the All-Ireland, but after Saturday's second quarter-final you'd have to say that Mayo have a serious chance.
I can totally understand why the GAA have come out strongly and have proposed an eight-week ban on Tyrone's Tiernan McCann.
Hammerings such as the one Kerry dished out to Kildare last Sunday will always occur in sport.
There are so many positives for Kerry to take from yesterday's All-Ireland quarter-final victory over the Lilywhites.
Can the same thing that happened to Cork last weekend happen to Kerry on Sunday? Of course it can because it has happened before.
Monaghan are Ulster champions, but I don't think that they have an All-Ireland in them. Not this year, at least. By contrast, the team they beat, Donegal, are still very much in the hunt for Sam Maguire.
Aidan O'Shea was masterful at full-forward for Mayo in the Connacht final at the weekend and I can't for the life of me work out why it's taken them so long to play him there.
There were three moments of magic that lit up the Munster final replay in rainy Killarney on Saturday night.
The black card rule needs to be altered. It was brought in to counteract cynical play and to my mind it has been a great success.
It was great to meet Billy Morgan and Dinny Allen after the Munster final in Killarney last Sunday, even though the pair of them were traumatised.
I fear for Westmeath ahead of Sunday's Leinster final meeting with Dublin.
Cork football reminds me a little bit of that old nursery rhyme - 'There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very, very good and when she was bad, she was horrid.'
Two things happened last weekend that showed us the passion and beauty of the GAA. If you weren't moved by them you may as well head off and watch sumo wrestling.
The All-Ireland qualifier system is far from perfect, but many positives have come since we first saw the back door opened in 2001.
I'm trying to imagine what I would be doing if I had been in Jason Ryan's shoes for the past few days. His Kildare team have hit the first target they would have set themselves at the start of the summer - beating Laois in the Leinster quarter-final, albeit after a replay.
In Ulster and Connacht we saw two genuine All-Ireland contenders in impressive form.
Donegal hammered Division 3 side Armagh on Sunday; the result was never in doubt. Last month Dublin put 27 points on Longford, a team that won promotion to Division 3 for next season.
I have no doubt that Kerry will beat Tipperary this weekend. Kerry have a few injuries and there may be a little bit of tiredness in the legs after a tough week's training in Portugal but they will definitely take Tipp.
Calling it straight, tomorrow's league final is quite simply a bigger game for Cork. They are the ones with something to prove while for most people Dublin are the team to beat.
When Tommy Walsh left for Australia a few years ago, he went with our best wishes. But there's no denying it was a major blow. Before he left, he had kicked four points in an All-Ireland final against Cork and still wasn't at his peak.
I can say it now. Before the Munster final this year, I went to the bookmakers and had a little punt on Kerry to win the All-Ireland. I still don't know why I did it. Maybe it was a hunch. Or maybe it was nothing more than blind hope.
All week I've been over and back, looking at tomorrow's All-Ireland final from different angles, throwing in the various scenarios that might arise, bouncing thoughts off friends. And I have to admit that things aren't much clearer.
I have no doubt that we have witnessed two of the best All-Ireland semi-finals ever played. Between Croke Park yesterday and a heaving Limerick on Saturday night, I can't imagine there's been anything to match them.
After a cracking game last weekend, I'm expecting more of the same today but the fear of losing will certainly make for a very tense afternoon.
Absolutely breathtaking. I thought the All-Ireland semi-final of 12 months ago between Kerry and Dublin was the greatest spectacle I'd ever witnessed, but yesterday almost reached those highs.
I've been weighing up this All-Ireland semi-final since I knew Kerry and Mayo would be going head-to-head yet again at headquarters. With no exaggeration, this is the most difficult game I've ever had to call.
IN THE last fortnight or so we've seen Waterford, Carlow and Westmeath all lose their senior football managers.
WE CAN only hope that fatigue caught up with Monaghan. If that wasn't the case, then the rest of us have no chance of living with this Dublin team.
MANIC aggression. It's a phrase made famous by a YouTube clip of Ireland rugby legend Paul O'Connell in the dressing-room ahead of a Six Nations clash with France at Croke Park in 2007.
There's no doubt about it, Kerry are going to face an altogether different challenge from the west when it comes to the All-Ireland semi-final.
HAPPINESS and contentment in a dressing-room can be a dangerous thing. Following their performance against Cork in the Munster final, the Kerry players are sure to be buzzing from all the congratulations and pats on the back.
It was clear from the first ball that Cork were under big pressure to perform against Sligo. This column said as much on Saturday.
It's well known in GAA circles that Cork footballers aren't loved. I hear you saying, "That's typical from a Kerry man", but I'm not talking about the Rebels' rivals; it's their own supporters.
It's time for the GAA authorities to really stand up and make a statement regarding the biting allegation from Sunday's Leinster final. For too long things have been brushed under the carpet, and I've noticed a bit of that going on over the last couple of days.
YESTERDAY proved once and for all Donegal are back in business. The way they dealt with Monaghan was akin to how they handled the big challenges on route to winning the All-Ireland in 2012.
'Let's get thick'. It's a saying up around Meath with regard to football. It's an ideology that has served them well over the years because, as well as having some truly brilliant footballers, they've all had that stubbornness that's required to go the distance.
MAYO showed yesterday why I believe they will still be challenging for championship honours once again this September. The doubts were surrounding them after they played so poorly against Roscommon but I think they have been dispelled now.
In many respects, Galway are in a similar position to where Kerry were this time last week. They go into the home of their greatest rivals as rank outsiders, dismissed as no-hopers by even their most loyal supporters.
I hoped and I thought Kerry would do it but I had no idea they'd progress in the manner they did. I have been saying for a while now that if Eamonn Fitzmaurice could sort the defence out, the rest would look after itself and that's why I fancied Kerry to win narrowly.
As a player, the first thing I looked out for was when we would be playing Cork in the Munster Championship. Everything rested on how we got on against them. Preparing for them was always more tense than in the build-up to an All-Ireland semi-final or final.
Just where do Kildare go from here? Coming up to Croke Park yesterday, things looked positive. They enjoyed a fine win over Louth with some highly thought of young and hungry players, and were playing a Meath team decimated by injuries.
MICK O'DOWD must be wondering what he needs to do to get a break. His Meath side go into a Leinster semi-final with Kildare having hit seven goals in their first-round win.
Arguably the most content manager in Ireland at the moment is one whose team didn't kick a ball in anger over the weekend.
I look at Cork and I see so many positives. Pace, power, skill, strength in depth and a forward line that is potentially devastating.
WHERE do Tyrone go from here? Monaghan only won by a point in yesterday's Ulster SFC clash, but what will worry Mickey Harte the most is just how much better the Farney men were.
During the International Rules series in 2008, I got to work alongside Sean Boylan and saw at close quarters what he was all about.
So, once again Dublin, after appearing to be out of sorts, blow a team out of the water in the second half. It's easy to point to their bench and the strength of the players they have to introduce, but I think there is another element to it.
Laois manager Tomás Ó Flatharta insists that the Dubs aren't unbeatable. Some may throw their eyes up to heaven and dismiss the chance of Tomás masterminding a huge shock as a fanciful notion, but if he didn't believe it was possible, what would be the point?
How quickly things can change. This time 12 months ago, Jim McGuinness was preparing his Donegal team as All-Ireland champions to play Tyrone in the Ulster quarter-final.
The performances of two men will be the focus of my attention this weekend. Two wily old characters who have seen it all in the game. I'm talking about my fellow Kerry man and Roscommon boss John Evans and Tyrone's mastermind, Mickey Harte.
THIS is a big week for Kerry football. After two games of the National League, it's not time to be pressing any panic buttons, but there is a big chance to seize against Mayo tomorrow.
There's very little that can be said about Tomás Ó Sé that many will not already know. Kerry has a knack for producing legendary half-backs. There's my great late friend and Tomás' uncle, Páidí Ó Sé, as well as Sean Murphy, who was named on the Team of the Millennium. Or what about Bill Dillon or Tom Prendergast? Tomás can be held up alongside any of them.
In the end, the best team in the land reached the top of the mountain. Dublin only played to about 70pc of their potential but still Mayo couldn't get over the line. That's what sums it up for the Connacht champions.
There were mixed emotions leaving Croke Park. Obviously, Kerry people will be feeling disappointed for losing an All-Ireland semi-final that could have been won.
For obvious reasons, Kerry v Dublin brings back some great memories. I can proudly say I played in four All-Ireland finals against our great rivals and won them all – but my first match against the Dubs was in 1977 and that famous All-Ireland semi-final.
The worry as far as Mayo were concerned going into yesterday's game was their lack of a big test up to this point. Were they undercooked? How would they respond to a battle?
Mayo find themselves in a rather unfamiliar position. Usually, at this stage of the championship, they are underdogs and not expected to go the full way. Now, though, they are most people's favourites to finally end their All-Ireland drought.
After all the early summer talk of a poor championship, the reality is that from the provincial final stage on, this has been a really exciting season.
AND then there were two. All year, we have spoken about the 'Super Six' and how they were well clear of the chasing pack. And coming into All-Ireland quarter-final weekend, Donegal, Mayo, Tyrone, Dublin, Cork and Kerry were all still in contention – but after the weekend's action there are now just two standout candidates for the All-Ireland.
The GAA people of Cavan and Kerry have a bond that stretches right back to the '40s and '50s. Indeed, I was reared on famous stories of the 1947 All-Ireland final in the Polo Grounds.
The talk for much of the early stages of the championship was dominated by calls for wholesale changes to the format. While that still needs debate and analysis, nobody can argue that the business end of the summer is anything other than mouth-watering.
Jim McGuinness will be experiencing something new this week. For the first time since he took over as Donegal's senior manager, there are doubts hanging over his team.
The beauty of football; it's simply glorious. A Division 3 team playing the All-Ireland champions in an Ulster final – the result should be a foregone conclusion. But not so, said Monaghan.
When the qualifier draw paired Kildare with Tyrone for today's Round 3 ties, it was clear this would be the one to garner the most attention. Arguably, they are the two strongest teams that went into the hat, but it is the battle of the two men who will be patrolling the sidelines in Newbridge that really has me intrigued.
Make no mistake, Dublin can be very happy with the way the Leinster final played out. It may seem a strange thing to say, given that Meath were such heavy underdogs and really pushed the Dubs for three-quarters of the game. But the All-Ireland favourites still emerged from a provincial decider with a seven-point win, despite playing so poorly for the opening 35 minutes.
I want to address a few things that have been said and written this past week. There appears to be some kind of misunderstanding based on a tweet I put out regarding the Kerry team for the Munster final.
This was a strange Munster final. At half-time, Kerry led by seven and it should have been at least 10, such was their dominance. And yet, by the end of the 70 minutes, Cork will be able to look at it and take away a massive amount of positives.
Today may be remembered as one of the most significant in GAA history. The greatest hurling team we have ever known could be sent packing by the second week of July.
When the news filtered through that Kieran Donaghy would be dropped for the Munster final, it hit me like a bolt from the blue. I was astonished.
Many are saying this is a do-or-die game for Kildare – and Kieran McGeeney. For me, that is an overly simplistic way of assessing the current state of play in relation to both the manager and the team.
For my generation, playing Cork in the Munster championship represented a major undertaking. There was no safety net; a bad day at the office meant our greatest rivals would dump us out of the championship. The tension going into those games was enormous.
I said some weeks ago that I didn't fancy Mayo to win the All-Ireland and I remain unconvinced by them. To their credit, they went into the Galway game with a lot to lose and came through the test with ease.
In light of the number of high-profile players who have opted to head Stateside rather than play county football, there have been a lot of accusations thrown around and the lads themselves have received criticism from some quarters.
On Monday, I touched upon the need for change in the structure of the football championship. This week has proven that it appears to be a position nearly everyone involved in Gaelic football is adopting.
As a Kerryman, it is easy for me to say that it has been a satisfying opening to the championship season. Two comfortable wins to build confidence, a place in the Munster final confirmed before the first Sunday of June, and plenty of room for improvement ahead of the bigger tests that lie ahead.
Having taken the time to have a second look at Kerry's defeat of Tipperary, I've come to the conclusion that it is a case of much done, more to do.
Kerry can be satisfied with their day's work. The result was never going to be in doubt, but, as I said here on Saturday, this was all about the quality of performance from Eamonn Fitzmaurice's team.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the third championship in a row that Kerry have begun without the mantle of All-Ireland champions. Believe me when I say that it hurts every GAA person in the county.