Monday 19 March 2018

'David Clifford is not Roy of the Rovers' - Kerry star fires warning

David Clifford of Kerry celebrates after the Electric Ireland GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Championship Final
David Clifford of Kerry celebrates after the Electric Ireland GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Championship Final

Sam Wheeler

Darran O'Sullivan has warned Kerry supporters not to see David Clifford as a "Roy of the Rovers" figure who can single-handedly bring Sam Maguire back to the Kingdom.

Clifford scored 4-4 as Kerry won the All-Ireland minor title on Sunday, and O'Sullivan was blown away by his "frightening talent". But the four-time All-Ireland winner pointed out that there is a massive step up between minor and senior football.

"He's an exceptional talent," says O'Sullivan (31). "But people have to be a bit realistic. I mean he's not Roy of the Rovers, who's going to dictate everything for Kerry and win the All-Ireland. It's not comic-book stuff.

"People sometimes forget that there's a big difference between an 18-year-old marking an 18-year-old and an 18-year-old playing senior next year and marking a 28-year-old, who's been around the block.

Kerry's Darran O'Sullivan
Kerry's Darran O'Sullivan

"But I do think he'll come straight in. He looks ready. He's big, he's strong, he has all the natural ability, but it is a big jump. I wouldn't be expecting him to light it up straight away. If he does, brilliant! But I don't think people should be expecting too much of him too soon."

O'Sullivan spent most of the summer on the Kerry bench, having missed the start of the inter-county season because of his commitments with All-Ireland JFC winners Glenbeigh-Glencar. He welcomes further competition for places, but he is considering his inter-county future

"God, are there any backs coming through?" he laughs. "Competition is good, the more the better. But I'm unsure what I'll do. I'm getting married in two weeks so I'll have a new boss then! I'll just see how it is. If Eamonn (Fitzmaurice) wants me back, I'll probably come back."

O'Sullivan's season ended on a sour note with his black card in Kerry's limp All-Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Mayo, but it is clear the fire still burns, given his lingering anger over his dismissal, and his description of watching the final.

"I watched it on my own; my wife-to-be hid upstairs, because I'm not the easiest person to be around - I'm a small bit bitter!" he says. "I can't understand players from other counties tweeting about how exciting the game is - how can you be excited about a game that you want to be playing in? I didn't want anyone to win it… I was half-hoping they'd call it off!"

O'Sullivan feels he "wasted a season" by returning to the Kerry fold too soon after his exploits with Glenbeigh. He is looking forward to a proper rest this winter, and even with a new business venture - a bar/restaurant in Rossbeigh Beach - you wouldn't bet against him coming back for another crack at Sam Maguire.

Darran O'Sullivan is a Sky Sports ambassador

Irish Independent

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