'The Writing Was On The Wall' - Clifford College Manager Questions Crazy Schedule
Tralee IT played its biggest game in a decade on Tuesday night, taking on DIT in the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup quarter-final at Austin Stack Park.
The Kerry side played the game without their star name - David Clifford. Though, given that it was a 16-point defeat for Tralee, it's doubtful that even the Fossa man could have turned the tide in his side's favour.
Clifford was unable to play due to an injury which he picked up while playing for Kerry against Mayo on Saturday evening. The 19-year-old limped off after just 17 minutes of that game.
The logic behind the decision to play Clifford in that game has since been the subject of much question - it was his third game in seven days. A week previous, he made his Kerry senior debut, playing 47 minutes against Donegal. That was followed during the week by scoring 1-4 in Tralee IT's win against Queen’s University.
Speaking on Radio Kerry's Terrace Talk on Monday night, Tralee IT manager Liam Brosnan said Clifford's injury was a prospect which he could see coming.
"It was unfortunate but it was bound to happen, the writing was on the wall," said Brosnan.
"A young fella's body can't take that much and the travelling then as well. He had to travel up the Belfast, six hours up, six hours down, travel up to Mayo. It's something which is a wider issue."
Brosnan said that Tralee IT have been particularly fair to Clifford - they did not add to his workload.
I've got texts that we ran him and we killed him and all this - a lot of them probably only messing.
We sat down with David at the start and I didn't want to see him at training. We got David for one game in late November against Trinity. We saw David then last Wednesday.
So the IT was very fair to David. We know what David can bring to the table so we don't want to be putting him under any pressure.
The Tralee IT management team went into last night's game with Clifford's well-being at heart. The young forward underwent a fitness test on Tuesday ahead of the game. Though, Brosnan sounded highly doubtful that he would participate in the game.
"I could be seen as being biased being his manager for Tralee but the problem we have now with David Clifford is that everybody wants him.
"It's kind of a bigger issue, it's a Croke Park issue. It's not only David Clifford, you have Gavin Crowley, Seanie O'Shea with UCC, Jack Barry in Dublin. It's hard for these guys because you have a county manager who wants them and they're in colleges where they're getting their college fees looked after, they're on scholarships.
"The only fear I can see from this - and there has been a lot of talk in the last week or two about burnout, players and scholarships - is that if colleges start pulling scholarships."