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Paudie Clifford on the Kerry greats who’ve influenced him

Fossa fire-brand cites Declan O’Sullivan, Colm Cooper and Paul Galvin as key influences on his career and playing style

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Paudie Clifford of Kerry poses for a portrait during the launch of the GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Series in Dublin Photo by Niamh Boyle/Sportsfile

Paudie Clifford of Kerry poses for a portrait during the launch of the GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Series in Dublin Photo by Niamh Boyle/Sportsfile

Paudie Clifford of Kerry poses for a portrait during the launch of the GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Series in Dublin Photo by Niamh Boyle/Sportsfile

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There a sort of manic intensity to Paudie Clifford on the pitch.

He's hustle and bustle. He’s give and go. In fact he’s all go. For whoever ends up marking him – on Saturday afternoon it looked to be Abbeyfeale man Adrian Enright – he’s got to be an absolute nightmare to keep tabs on.

He’s not as tall or as broad as his little brother David, make no mistake though, Paudie is strong as an ox. With the pace to match it. In Fitzgerald Stadium he shot two points from play and assisted at least another three or four.

It wasn’t a block-buster performance necessarily, but he was easily within the top the top three or four performances the Kingdom had against the Shannonsiders. This is a guy who has and maintains high standards.

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One thing he’s focussed on at the moment is ensuring the four-week gap to the All Ireland quarter-final doesn’t come back to haunt the Kingdom, much in the manner in which it did against Tyrone last year.

In a roundabout sort of a way, it’s possible that the experience of the inordinate wait the Kingdom had to suffer through ahead of last year’s semi-final might stand to Kerry this year.

“I think there’s a few things yeah,” Clifford says when asked about what he and Kerry might have learned as a result.

“There’s a few things we can do. We just have to ensure training is as competitive as possible to prepare us. That’s probably the main thing we can take out of it.”

The biggest change, of course, between this year and last in the change of manager between Peter Keane, who brought him into the fold, and Jack O’Connor.

“Peter did a lot of great work and we were very close last year,” he reveals

"Then Jack came in, a new voice with new ideas. He’s been a breath of fresh air to us, really. We’re really enjoying the training and really enjoying how we’re preparing for games. It’s just a new voice is the main thing.

“We enjoy hopping ideas off each other in training and working on things and hopefully bringing it to the game.”

Clifford is very much his own man and his own player. That said he’s certainly got influences and guys who inspired him to become the player that he is today as he explains.

“Obviously, players from the past like taking bits from Declan O’Sullivan’s game, Gooch obviously and Paul Galvin especially. Them three in the position I play. If you can be a combination of the three of them... I don’t have to look too far, I don’t think have to look outside Kerry for that.

“I’ve spoken to them all in the last year. They’re great to give advice if needed or whatever. They’re so knowledgeable. They were unbelievable footballers, but they’re very knowledgeable. Just trying to get as much out of them to improve my game and to improve Kerry as a team."

Chances are Clifford’s place on the team is secure for the rest of the season. That said it does feel particularly competitive at the moment, as you could see with Adrian Spillane dropping to the bench last time out. Certainly, the elder Clifford brother is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s very competitive,” he notes.

"There is a lot of strength in depth and whoever is in the [starting] spot on any given day we know can perform because you can pick up injuries and things like that.

"We probably will pick up an injury or two like every team does so it’s great to have the strength in depth and it’s down to the lads coming in then to stake their claims like Killian [Spillane] did.”

The battle for places will recommence on Wednesday evening when the panel gather again for the first time since their dismissal of Billy Lee’s Limerick.

“We’ll get it at tomorrow night [Wednesday] and put in a good training,” he says.

"We just have to make sure the training is as competitive as possible to get ourselves for what we know is going to be a very competitive quarter-final whoever it is against. It’s just back to the heads down now and getting ready for what is basically the second half of the season, the All-Ireland series.”


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