David Clifford v Padraig O'Hara. There was only going to be one winner, but the duel was the biggest talking point of yesterday's one-sided Division One final at headquarters.
The Knockmore man was given the thankless task of man-marking the Fossa phenomenon. It would be easy to think that Padraig O’Hora got his just desserts, after enduring a torrid time man-marking David Clifford in Mayo’s heavy loss to Kerry. After all he was the one throwing the verbals and shoves, trying to put Clifford off and get a reaction.
But realistically did he have a choice? David Clifford is leaving the realm of generational talent to that of once in a lifetime talent. You would suspect that many an experienced defender would have had a similar experience to O’Hora given Clifford’s performance.
David Clifford vs Padraig O'Hora
Speaking on RTE after the game, Colm O’Rourke summed up nicely both the struggles of O’Hora and the genius of Clifford, with one simple line.
“O’Hora is like a man here trying to pick up mercury with a fork.”
In other words an impossible task. He went on to lavish further praise on David Clifford, and offer his sympathies to O’Hora.
“Great players in every sport define their sport like Tiger Woods in golf or Michael Jordan in basketball or maybe Ronaldo in soccer, and this man is redefining the way gaelic football is played.
“I felt a bit sorry for Padraig O’Hora today.
“Padraig O’Hora tried to do a lot of the things right and he ended up having a nightmare game. And he’s a hardy. Fella but just pushed out of the way. Clifford is strong he’s fit he’s agile and he’s very unselfish.
“And I think just before this happened in the second half, Padraig O’Hora had lots of words in Clifford’s ears and I think he should have said nothing because Clifford obviously decided then he was going to give him the going over for the rest of the match.
“There is nobody comparable to him maybe the last person who did such damage was the likes of Gooch here or Peter Canavan, but he’s very much in a league of his own. He’s a class player and he’s the sort of player that attracts people to go and watch gaelic football.”
'He has all the skills, and keeping him fit is going to be key for Kerry'
The panel discuss David Clifford after another scintillating performance from the Fossa forward #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/SwaByxxuDC
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) April 3, 2022
It’s hard not to feel somewhat sorry for O’Hora. After all he is still an excellent footballer, memorably winning the Man of the Match award after Mayo’s epic defeat of Dublin.
He also acknowledged the greatness of Clifford, giving the Kerry forward a tap on the leg after he had left him for dead to score Kerry’s second goal.
Off the pitch O’Hora is also a good man and involved in some fantastic initiatives and charity work. We’ll forgive him for not be able to perform what really was an impossible task.