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'David Clifford is going to give Kerry every chance of winning an All-Ireland if he stays fit'

Marc Ó Sé previewed the clash of Cork and Kerry on the latest episode of The42 GAA Weekly.

KERRY GREAT MARC Ó Sé believes the Kingdom will get past Cork in their Munster SFC semi-final this weekend having “definitely progressed,” while captain David Clifford will give them “every chance of winning an All-Ireland if he stays fit”.

kevin-flahive-and-david-clifford David Clifford facing Kerry in last year's Munster final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Peter Keane’s side travel to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to face the Rebels on Sunday [throw-in 4pm], with championship hopes firmly on the line.

The white-hot heat of knockout football adds another element this year, after Cork pushed them all the way in last summer’s provincial decider on Leeside.

Kerry went on to enjoy a successful campaign though, reaching the All-Ireland final only to lose to five-in-a-row champions Dublin after a replay.

Many across the country believe they are serious contenders for the Sam Maguire in 2020, but their bid could be over before it even starts should Cork upset the odds this weekend. 

Speaking on our brand new podcast, The42 GAA Weekly, O’Sé told his partner-in-crime Limerick hurling All-Ireland winner Shane Dowling that he was relishing a “right battle”.

“Kerry went down there last year and got a real fright, particularly with Cork’s forwards. Cork have serious forwards, so that’s going to be a great battle,” he said before quickly deflecting the attention away from his native county.

Ó Sé spoke about how many of the “teams that you would be expecting to win” have to travel this weekend — Mayo face Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park, while Dublin open their six-in-a-row tilt in Portlaoise — which will “take them out of their comfort zones”.

But Dowling soon brought the An Gaeltacht man back to the big question, after he was forced to nail his colours to the mast ahead of Limerick-Tipperary last weekend.

‘Cork are playing Kerry, put the pin to the collar now and tell me how it’s going to go…’

peter-keane-and-manager-ronan-mccarthy Peter Keane and Ronan McCarthy. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’m going to go Kerry, because what I’ve seen in the last two weeks has shown me that they’ve definitely progressed,” Ó Sé began. “That said, Cork, albeit in Division 3 and now promoted to Division 2, they have been going along very well.

“Ronan McCarthy is doing a good job there, they also have Cian O’Neill. I’ve worked closely with him, an excellent coach. And you have Kevin Smith who’s a fitness coach, I’ve heard Ronan McCarthy talking about how much those two lads in particular have brought to it.

“Powter was injured, great bit of stuff Seán Powter. He did his hamstring so it will be interesting to see if he’ll be back. Ciarán Sheehan is out, Liam O’Donovan out, Tomás Clancy out. They do have injuries but they also have quality forwards inside.

“I would give them a chance, I think they’re really going to put it up to Kerry. You saw Monaghan and Cavan, Monaghan out of the championship was the first big one. But I still think Kerry are going to have enough.

On the evidence that I’ve seen, Kerry should be winning this, particularly when we have the likes of [David] Clifford and [Tony] Brosnan on fire inside. 

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‘Is David Clifford a second coming to Jesus Christ?’

Ó Sé laughs after Dowling’s question, before responding. “I’ll tell you one thing, he’s something else. He’s on a different level to be honest with you.

“And what I’ve noticed about him, Shane, is… when you’re marking a forward that is so big and so strong, he’s only 21 and he’s able to hold the ball in one hand and push fellas off with the other hand to create that space for himself.

“Left leg, right leg; you saw the goal he got in the county final with his right leg. Peter Crowley had done everything he could to keep him away, at worst he was going to get a point but it was a just breathtaking goal out of nowhere.

“When the likes of Mikey Sheehy retired, we said we’d never replace him. Then Maurice Fitzgerald came along, we said we’d never replace him. The Gooch came along, and now thankfully, Clifford has come along. 

“I said it about Gooch when Gooch came about, that it was the worst thing for defenders because we now have some players that can’t defend because they don’t want to play in the defence, they want to be a Colm Cooper. Now, they want to be a David Clifford.

We’ll be running out of defenders, I think. Look, he’s been phenomenal and if he stays fit, he’s going to be a serious player for Kerry… he’s going to give Kerry every chance of winning an All-Ireland if he stays fit.”

To conclude the Cork-Kerry chat, Dowling stepped in with a brilliant story about his trip to the Listowel Races in 2018, shortly after lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup in Croke Park.

“You know a month after winning the All-Ireland, you’d be fairly popular and there’d be plenty of people that would want to know you,” he explained, recalling a nightclub visit. “We were having good auld craic and meeting people.

“David Clifford walked in, I may as well have left the building. No one wanted to know me anymore!”

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Subscribe to The42′s new member-led GAA Championship show with Marc Ó Sé and Shane Dowling. 

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