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Country Watches On In Awe As David Clifford Scores 4-4 In Box Office Minor Final Performance

Country Watches On In Awe As David Clifford Scores 4-4 In Box Office Minor Final Performance

12 minutes into the All-Ireland minor final between David Clifford Kerry and Derry, there was a moment which looked akin to one of those videos where a professional footballer takes on 35 kids.

Clifford took possession of the ball on the 20m line. Derry players attempted to drag him down, despairing rugby tackles were tried - if there had been a kitchen sink handy at the Hill 16 end, it would have been thrown at the Fossa man; he probably would have dodged it too. And a man is what he looked like up against the Derry minors, still aged just 18.

Clifford muscled his way through the Derry defence, eventually managing to poke the ball into the net despite the best efforts of his opponents to bring him down.

In all, Clifford scored an incredible 4-4 - outscoring Derry on his own - as Kerry won their fourth consecutive All-Ireland minor title. The final score 6-17 to 1-08.

A large luminous sign of just how ominous things were for the Ulster champions came just 11 seconds into the game. The TG4 clock and scoreboard were not even on the TV when Clifford scored Kerry's first goal of the game.  After he claimed a high ball near the square, there was little doubt about what was going to happen. He struck the ball left-footed past Oran Hartin in the Derry goal.

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Clifford also had a major hand in Kerry's third goal of the game. Again taking possession of the ball on the 20m line, this time on the Cusack Stand sid, he took five Derry defenders out of the game with a perfectly directed diagonal pass. It was another Clifford, this time Fiáchra, who applied the finish.

It really was a box office first-half performance from the young Kerryman, one which saw him score 2-3. Strangely, his presence killed the game as a contest but also made it watchable - mainly just to see what he could do. The 2017 All-Ireland minor final will be remembered as the David Clifford Final.

Early in the second half, Clifford took a wild shot on his right foot into the Canal End. It struck you as a player no longer concerned about winning an All-Ireland, rather he was now moving on to improving his right peg - in Croke Park.

His third and fourth goals came in quick succession in the second half. There was something suspect about the Derry defence - as if they had not heard about this man-child who had scored 1-10 against Cavan in the semi-final. Still, you suspect only Derry somehow sneaking a prime-era Sean Marty Lockhart into their team would have curtailed the Kerry force of nature.

Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

See Also: 'Expert' Tells AFL Website About Chances Of David Clifford Moving To Australia

PJ Browne
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