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'I’d Probably Stray Away From Teaching Gaelic Football That Much In PE'

Monday April 24th, 2023: Pictured is four-time Kerry All-Star David Clifford at SuperValu’s launch of the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Sponsors of the Championship for a 14th consecutive season, SuperValu were joined by Gaelic Games role models and advocates from across the country in Croke Park to highlight the role of GAA communities in making Ireland a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming country for all. Photo credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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"There’s a few," says David Clifford, responding to the suggestion that hanging on the walls of St Brendan's College in Killarney there might be some photos of him. Known locally as the Sem, it's where the Kerry star went to school, where he won the Hogan Cup, and now where he works as a PE teacher.

"It’s brilliant, it was strange going back to your old school at the start but very enjoyable so far," he adds, speaking at SuperValu’s launch of the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

"The wall is full of photos and it’s very cool to walk down the corridor and see some of the old teams and maybe fellas that were on the same team as you were on that you mightn’t be meeting as much anymore."

david clifford kerry gaa pe teacher

24 July 2022; David Clifford of Kerry during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Clifford chose PE teaching due to the "keen interest" he has in all sports.

"The process I went on, teacher training and to be actually be teaching, I found I got a lot more enjoyment teaching the sports I maybe wouldn’t be as comfortable with or I was familiar with," he says.


"I’d probably stray away from teaching Gaelic football that much in PE, you’re trying to give the students a chance to maybe find a sport they mightn't have tried that may be something they might like to carry on further in their lives.

"Then you’re just teaching them about warm-ups and cool-downs and eating the right way, stuff like that, so they can be somewhat more healthy for the rest of their lives.

"We do a lot of badminton, we do a lot of Olympic handball, bits of ultimate frisbee. Different sports like that, sports I wouldn’t have much experience in but trying to learn them yourself first and then teach them to the students.


"We try and put a big emphasis on fun in PE, especially with the new Leaving Cert PE subject. You do have to really find sports you are comfortable with.


"In the class there may be 50 per cent who are footballers for their clubs, another 20 or 30 per cent play soccer and then you’ll have maybe another 20 per cent who don’t play any sport.

"If they do want to go on and study PE for the Leaving Cert, it’s good that they actually have to find a sport that they would like to specialise in."


11 December 2022; David Clifford of Fossa signs autographs after the Munster GAA Football Junior Club Championship Final match between Fossa and Kilmurry at Mallow GAA Sports Complex in Cork. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

During Fossa and Clifford's run to the All-Ireland Junior Club Football Championship title last winter, the 2022 Footballer of the Year was regularly mobbed by young children wanting to meet their hero.


"It’s great," Clifford says about the experience, "people would be telling you about the different places they’ve come from, the times they might have met you before or got your gloves at a game before. It always brings a smile to your face.

"It’s probably difficult at times. You can’t say yes to everyone and do everything for people because you’d just get worn out. It’s just trying to be as nice to the kids as you can in the short period of time because you’re well aware of the fact that you’re going to have to say no to some of them at different stages.

"Generally I try not to miss a recap on the game in the dressing room, I’d never like to miss that. You’re trying to spend as much time without maybe missing that bit of a session."


Clifford says there are days, especially after a defeat, when that expectation on him post-match can be a burden.

"There are days where you might be better off just going into the dressing room because you mightn’t be able to show your best side to the kids," he says.

"It can be difficult of course, but meeting the kids is always very positive. You’re well aware that you were that kid at one stage. Being a good role model to them is important."


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