Eoghan Cormican, Croke Park
As expected, the David Clifford show did not disappoint.
The Kerry minor captain had been billed as the main attraction for this afternoon’s curtain-raiser and the Fossa talent delivered a five-star performance.
With Kerry chasing a historical four-in-a-row of All-Ireland minor titles, there was a nice symmetry to Clifford’s haul of four goals and four points. The winning margin was twenty-four points.
Clifford’s first green flag of the afternoon arrived 10 seconds in, the full-forward collecting Barry Mahony’s delivery before dispatching the ball into the corner of the Derry goal with his left boot.
On 13 minutes, he had his second. Having been fouled by Derry full-back Conor McCluskey, referee Anthony Nolan allowed advantage and Clifford powered his way to the edge of the small square where the right boot was employed.
Fiachra Clifford provided goal number three on the quarter-hour mark, the assist supplied by who else but David. The half-time scoreline read 3-8 to 0-5. Game over.
Fiachra Clifford started and finished Kerry’s fourth on 36 minutes. Patrick Quigg slotted a 39th minute penalty for the outclassed Oak Leaf County. They would not score again until second-half stoppages. By that stage, Clifford had twice more hit the net. A remarkable display, a remarkable young footballer.
Now, can Kerry hold onto him?
Scorers for Kerry: David Clifford (4-4); F Clifford (2-0); B Friel (0-5, 0-1 free); D O’Sullivan (0-3); J Griffin (0-2); A Donoghue, E Horan, Donnchadh O’Sullivan (0-1);
Scorers for Derry: P Quigg (1-1); L McWilliams (0-1 free), O McWilliams, M McGrogan (0-2 each); R Mullan (0-1).
Kerry: D Uosis (Dingle); C O’Donoghue (Glenflesk); M Potts (Dr Crokes); S O’Leary (Kilcummin); C Gammell (Legion), P Warren (Gneeveguilla), N Donohue (Firies); B Mahony (St Senan’s), D O’Connor (Na Gaeil); A Donoghue (Castleisland Desmonds), B Friel (Rathmore), F Clifford (Laune Rangers); 14 J Griffin (Dr Crokes), D Clifford (Fossa), D O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan).
Subs: E Horan (Scartaglen) for Griffin (44 mins); Donnchadh O’Sullivan (Firies) for O’Sullivan (49); C O’Reilly (Austin Stacks) for F Clifford (53); M O’Leary (Renard) for Gammell (56); R O’Neill (Na Gaeil) for Donohue (57); M Slattery (Austin Stacks) for Donoghue (59).
Derry: O Hartin (Limavady); O McGill (Glen), C McCluskey (Magherafelt), S McKeever (Dungiven); C McShane (Bellaghy), S McErlain (Magherafelt), P McGrogan (Newbridge); O McWilliams (Swatragh), D Rafferty (Drumsurn); R Mullan (Dungiven), M Bradley (Ballinascreen), P Quigg (Kilrea); M McGrogan (Newbridge), L McWilliams (Swatragh), B McCarron (Steelstown).
Subs: C Brown (Limavady) for Rafferty, C Quinn (Bellaghy) for McCarron, D Cassidy (Bellaghy) for McCluskey (all HT); O Quinn (Bellaghy) for McShane (39); T McHugh (Drumsurn) for Mullan, JP Devlin (Ballinascreen) for McGrogan (both 42).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).