Clifford excited about year ahead with Keane

From left, Maria Godley, Regional Manager of Alliance Medical. Tim Murphy, Barry O’Grady, Business Development Specialist Alliance Medical, and David Clifford at the launch of the third year partnership between the Kerry GAA and Alliance Medical
From left, Maria Godley, Regional Manager of Alliance Medical. Tim Murphy, Barry O’Grady, Business Development Specialist Alliance Medical, and David Clifford at the launch of the third year partnership between the Kerry GAA and Alliance Medical

Paul Brennan

Despite the likelihood of missing out on playing most of this year's National League campaign David Clifford is nonetheless very excited about what the year ahead holds for him and the Kerry team.

Clifford has been rehabbing a shoulder injury right through the winter and the indications are that it will be early to mid-March before he is ready for a return to the Kerry jersey.

At best, it would seem, the Fossa man will get game time against Mayo and Roscommon in the last two rounds of the League but he is already fully immersed in the Kerry set-up under the new management and it very enthusiastic about what lies ahead.

"I think there's going to be a lot of change. It's unbelievable to have the amount of young players we have mixed with the experienced players so I think it should be a very exciting year ahead for Kerry," he said.

"The regime Eamonn (Fitzmaurice) had was unbelievable. Every little last detail was thought of. Carrying through onto Peter Keane and the new lads that have come in, it's going to be unbelievable as well. From what we've seen so far, the work we're putting in is of a very high standard and we're just hoping that we can go a few steps further this year."

Looking back on his debut season with the senior team in 2018 - which saw him win Kerry's only All Star award - Clifford admitted the transition from the minor grade had its challenges but was something he embraced.

"It was a big change for me physicality wise, going from minor to senior level. Fellows were bigger and the hits you were getting were a lot tougher. The pace was a big step up. Even the atmosphere and things around match day was totally different so nerves and things like that set in a lot more last year than it did in previous years.

"I was very thankful to Eamonn and the lads for sticking with me through the league and the start of the championship and my team mates around me helped me greatly."

One lesson Clifford did learn last year was in relation to workload, particularly around a hamstring injury picked up earlier in the year.

"I probably should have listened to my body a bit more. The injury I picked up against Mayo in the league game (last year) was probably as a result of maybe the three games that I played in that week or so.

"It was my first year with Kerry and I wanted to play and playing the Sigerson with Tralee was massive. So down the line it is something I really have to have to look at and be careful with because it's the last thing players want to do is be injured."

Clifford was at the launch of the third year of the partnership between Kerry GAA and Alliance Medical, which guarantees quick access to MRI's and CT scans to its inter-county teams, and was fulsome in his praise for the partnership, which he saw in action first hand last year.

"This partnership with Alliance Medical works so well because it's essential for a player here that picks up any bit of an injury in training, that we're able to get into this unit in the Bons in Tralee. From my personal experience it's been unbelievable. You could pick up an injury on a Tuesday night and you're in here for a scan Wednesday morning and you could have the results by the following day."

Clifford was joined at the launch by Kerry GAA Chairman Tim Murphy who speaking of the year ahead Mr Murphy said: "It's a very exciting year ahead for the management, for the players and for the Kerry public as well. There is a sense of anticipation, of expectation and we are all looking forward to it. The management team is leaving no stone unturned."

Of the Alliance Medical partnership, he said: "We're getting a fantastic service. Our players are seen very quickly and from a hurling and football point of view, we're very satisfied. When you're talking about high performance athletes, I think that having a facility of this standard on your doorstep is very important. Obviously, players, particularly during the winter months, have a heavy training load so to be able to be seen quickly in the event of an injury or even a tweak, get diagnosed and referred on is very important for getting back onto the field of play."

Maria Godley, Regional Manager of Alliance Medical, said: "The quick access to medical services provided to Kerry GAA will give the players and teams the best chance of recovery from injury. This is a very important partnership for Alliance Medical. Those of us who are from Kerry understand that football is more than a sport here. It's like a religion.

"To be able to facilitate the players in early diagnosis, into rehab quickly, to get them back out on the field playing the sport that they are so exceptionally talented at, is very important to us. "