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Man of the moment! David Clifford inspires IT Tralee to first Sigerson win in 11 years

The Fossa star hit 1-4 as his side stunned Queen’s University in Belfast.

David Clifford helped IT Tralee spring a major surprise in Belfast.
David Clifford helped IT Tralee spring a major surprise in Belfast.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

IT Tralee 2-8
Queen’s University 0-11

Orla Bannon reports from The Dub

IT WAS ABSOLUTELY no coincidence that David Clifford’s arrival at IT Tralee dovetailed with the college’s first win in the Sigerson Cup in 11 years.

The most talked about Kerry footballer of his generation landed 1-4 and set up the match-winning goal for Cork’s Conor O’Driscoll as Tralee came from behind to sink the favourites, Queen’s University, in Belfast.

Clifford did all his scoring in the first half, with four frees and then got his fist onto Shane Cronin’s long ball in, flicking it over his head into the back of the net just before half time.

It was the perfect time to grab a goal and put Tralee, whose last Sigerson Cup win came against Carlow in 2007, 1-6 to 0-5 ahead at the break.

The sides were level five times in the opening half, Queen’s leading briefly at 0-2 to 0-1 through Derry midfielder Emmett Bradley’s point early on.

Lorcan Connor of Donegal also landed two points from play for Aidan O’Rourke’s side but they wasted a lot of chances kicking six wides to Tralee’s two, in the opening half-hour.

Queen’s were the better side in the third quarter, out-scoring the visitors by six points to one in a 22-minute spell.

Central to that was Armagh midfielder Ben Crealey, who came on for the second half and almost turned the game on his own with an outstanding display of fielding and forceful running.

Downing’s Lorcan Connor scored four points in that spell, including three frees.

When Clifford missed a relatively simple 49th minute free – his only miss of the day – and a minute later Emmett Bradley nailed a monster free at the other end, it looked like a pivotal moment.

That drew Queen’s level and Crealey drove forward to score a lovely point to put the home side ahead in the 52nd minute for the first time since the early stages of the game.

Tralee, and Clifford, held their nerve.

Cronin was fouled by Patrick O’Hagan but advantage was played, allowing Clifford to do this thing, picking the ball up and running at the defence.

He unselfishly fisted the ball out to the impressive O’Driscoll at the far post and he buried a low shot across the goalkeeper into the far corner for a huge goal.

The same player tagged on a point to book Tralee’s place in the next round against either DIT or Carlow.

Scorers for IT Tralee: D Clifford 1-4 (4f), C O’Driscoll 1-2 (1f), D O’Keeffe, D Spillane 0-1 each

Scorers for Queen’s University: L Connor 0-6 (3f), T Rushe, E Bradley 0-2 (1f) each, B Crealey 0-1

IT Tralee

1. Conor Hurley (Kerry)

3. Conor Smith (Cavan)
2. Eoghan Marah (Wicklow)
4. Brian Fitzgerald (Kerry)

5. Jack Morgan (Kerry)
8. Gavin Crowley (Kerry)
18. Shane Cronin (Kerry)

14. Paul Clarke (Kerry)
9. George Bastible (Kerry)

13. Sean Cournane (Kerry)
11. Conor Lowney (Cork)
19. David Spillane (Kerry)

10. Daniel O’Keeffe (Cork)
15. David Clifford (Kerry)
12. Conor O’Driscoll (Cork)

Subs

7. Cathal Kearney (Kerry) for Morgan (34)
20. Conchuir Lynch for O’Keeffe (50)
6. Aaron McCarthy (Kerry) for Spillane (52)
24. Gavin McKenna (Kerry) for Clarke (55)

Queen’s University Belfast

1. Callum Mullan-Young (Derry)

22. Niall Keenan (Derry)
3. Patrick Murdock (Down)
4. Aidan Rushe (Armagh)

5. Conor Murphy (Fermanagh)
6. James McMahon (Fermanagh)
7. Niall Scullion (Down)

8. Shea Heffron (Armagh)
9. Emmett Bradley (Derry)

10. Callum O’Neill (Armagh)
11. Patrick O’Hagan (Down)
12. Donal McKeever (Down)

13. Aidan Fegan (Down)
17. Lorcan Connor (Donegal)
15. Tiarnan Rushe (Down)

Subs

18. Ben Crealey (Armagh) for Fegan (HT)
20. Eamon Fyfe (Antrim) for McKeever (38)
29. Fearghus Quinn (Louth) for Scullion (42)
23. Conor Martin (Armagh) for O’Neill (43)
28. Lorcan Oliver (Armagh) for Murphy (Black card, 60)

Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan)

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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About the author:

Orla Bannon

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