Though he has faced the best Tyrone, Mayo, Dublin, Monaghan, Galway, Donegal and others have thrown at him, it is not a division one team who have provided the toughest opponent for David Clifford.
"There’s been a few," said the Kerry forward in a Q&A for Killarney insurance broker GMHD.ie when asked who has been the toughest marker of his career thus far.
"There’s a lad from Clare, his name is Gordon Kelly, I’ve marked him for the last two years in a row.
"He’s tough, he’s very experienced, he’s cute we’ll say. But he’s been the toughest I’ve marked, to be honest with you."
The numbers support that assertion. As Kerry defeated Clare by 22 points in Clifford's championship debut in 2018, he notched a single point from play. The following year, a much closer six-point win for Kerry, Clifford scored two from play.
In their attempts to stop the best forwards, defenders often get in their ear during a game.
"It’s a difficult one," said Clifford about how he deals with trash-talk while playing.
"I suppose it doesn’t happen a whole pile in local games, you’d often be friends with fellas and you’d know fellas a bit better.
"I don’t think it happens too much. But what I try and do is I try to mind my own business and what I find is the more I interact with them the less I’m focused on the game.
"The advice I’d give to anyone that maybe struggles with it, it’s a tough one cause if it suits you to talk trash back with them, if that’s going to drive you on, I’d say do that.
"But for me personally I find it doesn’t do me any favours so I try and stay away from it."
The 21-year-old, Kerry captain in this Covid-19 stalled year, said that Michael Murphy is the player he tried to base his game off while developing as a young footballer. He also picked the Donegal man as the player he would purchase for Kerry if there was a Gaelic football transfer market.
The former Kerry player whom Clifford would resurrect for the current Kingdom team is Gooch.
"I would say it would have to be Colm Cooper in his days playing number 11 with Kerry. I’d say any inside forward would wish they could play alongside him when he’s playing there it would make it a whole pile easier."
Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile