‘Maybe Peter Canavan and a few players like that’ – Clerkin says Clifford has potential to rise above the greats

David Clifford of Kerry shoots past Pádraig O'Hora and Mayo goalkeeper Rory Byrne to score his side's third goal. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

Considering their inter-county careers overlapped by six years and were in the same province, Dick Clerkin can be said to be well-placed to comment on the impact Peter Canavan had on Gaelic football.

While they never met in the Ulster Championship, the two did face off at Championship level in Canavan’s final year, a round 4 qualifier in which he scored two points from the bench as Tyrone saw off a brave Farney on a flattering 2-14 to 1-07 scoreline en route to the second Sam Maguire.

But having witnessed David Clifford’s performance as Kerry demolished Mayo to take a third Allianz League title on the spin, Clerkin believes the Kingdom attacker has elements to his game that could ascend him above even ‘Peter the Great’.

“I know they say about a lot of players 'oh he never wastes a ball' - but he literally never wastes a ball,” Clerkin told The Throw-In podcast.

“He is so creative, not just with himself, and to me that almost sets him apart.

“He just does so much damage to a team - again not just from his own boot, but from his own hands and vision - and as I say, you could probably associate at least 1-15 to him directly on Sunday.

“It's just a phenomenal return for one player in an attacking unit that I've never seen myself.

“Maybe Peter Canavan and a few players like that possibly, but I guess we're just privileged to be watching it at the minute”.

While Clifford top-scored with 1-6 on Sunday (1-5 from play), it’s that ability to create for others that’s marking him apart at present.

Although Clerkin isn’t seeing anything he hasn’t seen in other players before about the Kerry captain’s style, it’s the ability of one individual to put the full package together that has really caught his eye.

Add in the consistency to do it on the big stage that Clifford now seems to be bringing into his play and the scene seems to be set for the Fausa man to light up the summer.

“It's not that he does anything we haven't seen before,” the two-time Ulster champion concluded.

“But when he does so much of it in one day in Croke Park against Mayo, who are still a top tier team and second in waiting to Kerry even though they didn't have a good day, makes it all more impressive.

“Like whatever about doing these things on a Munster quarter-final or a meaningless league game, to do it on the biggest day is hugely impressive.

“I suppose what impresses me so much about him - there's been loads of really good finishers and point scorers and goal-takers over the years.

“But when you look at his complete game, see how many scores he was actually the direct assist for or the secondary assist for.”