David Clifford Says Footballer Of The Year Award Ideal Way To Cap Off Huge Year On And Off The Pitch

By Gary Connaughton

Before he had even kicked a ball for Kerry at senior level, David Clifford had already been anointed as the next superstar in the GAA. He arrived into the panel shouldering massive expectations, having been one of the most dominant players the sport had ever seen at underage level.

Of course, he didn't disappoint.

Clifford would win a PwC All-Star and be named as Young Footballer of the Year after his first season with the county, going on to reach an All-Ireland final in the following year.

It would take a while for him to get his hands on the Sam Maguire, although he would lead Kerry to their first title in eight years during the summer. Now, he can add a fourth All-Star and Footballer of the Year gong to his ever growing personal collection.

Speaking to GAA.ie, the 23-year old said it was the ideal way to cap off a huge year for him.

It's very satisfying. I suppose the All-Ireland is the big prize you set out to win at the start of the year. But when you get nominated for something like the Footballer of the Year, it's nice to go on and win it.

It's nice to get the recognition from your fellow players too which adds an awful lot to it.

28 October 2022; David Clifford of Kerry is presented with his PwC All-Star award by Larry McCarthy during the PwC All-Stars Awards 2022 show at the Convention Centre in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

A gap of eight years without an All-Ireland would be nothing for most counties, but it all but amounted to a famine in The Kingdom. Not only are they are a county that is used to success, they demand it.

Advertisement
Recommended

There was a sense that the team had underperformed over the couple of years prior to 2022. Despite having perhaps the most talented panel in the country, they had come up short against what would have been perceived to be lesser sides.

There were no such mistakes this time around, with David Clifford admitting that there was a huge sense of relief as the final whistle sounded in the final against Galway.

I suppose there was massive relief straight away. Which is probably wrong in a way. I won't say you don't enjoy it at the time, but you're just so relieved that you can't think of anything else. There was probably a bit of pressure building on us. We had lost a lot of big games and a lot of big games in Croke Park. I wouldn't say we were starting to feel the pressure, but we certainly felt it was time for us to go on and win it...

The core of the team has been together now since 2019. So, we went through a lot of those losses together. I suppose we all just rallied around each other. Tried to stay together as a group throughout those set-backs. There was never any negativity coming from the camp in the off-seasons or anything like that. I think it just brought us closer together going through such tough times like that. I think that's probably what allowed us to come through those big moments in matches this year, those past experiences.

24 July 2022; Kerry brothers Paudie, left, and David Clifford, and David's son Ógie celebrate with the Sam Maguire Cup. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

2022 has been a massive year for David Clifford, both on and off the pitch. Not only has he experienced success with Kerry, but his personal life experienced a number of milestones.

The Fossa man completed his education in PE teaching in UL earlier this year and is now working at his former alma mater St Brendan's. He is also adjusting to life as a father having welcomed his son Ógie into the world late last year.

There were some brilliant scenes on the pitch at Croke Park after the final as he got to share the moment with his son. It is something that made the achievement all the more special.

Advertisement

It was brilliant, yeah. Ógie has been an unbelievable change for us. He has just brought so much joy to everyone involved. He brought us all closer together in terms of family. To have him there was special. Hopefully he'll be able to look back on it in years to come. Yeah, it was very cool, in fairness...

We met them straight after. It was great to see them like that because it obviously means a lot to us but it probably means an awful lot more to them. Because there's a lot of pressure on them. We're kept away from it by being in a bubble at times, especially on a match day, whereas they're in amongst the crowd and know what people are saying about the team and about us as individuals. So I'd say it was a massive moment for them and it was great to be able to enjoy it with them...

Family is what it all comes back to. Family and Fossa.

Family and Fossa, you can probably throw Kerry into the mix as well.

At 23-years old, you get the feeling that this won't be the last time that David Clifford gets his hands on this particular award.

SEE ALSO: In Pictures: Plenty Of Glitz And Glamour On Show On The PwC All-Stars Red Carpet

Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com

Advertisement