The one-sidedness of the Cork-Kerry rivalry since 2012 has not diminished it in the slightest for David Clifford.
Whether it’s his recollections of his father Dermot enjoying a pitstop in Ballyvourney coming back from a hard-earned win in Páirc Uí Chaoimh or as a 16-year-old being on the terrace Fionn Fitzgerald kicked into to earn a draw in the 2015 Munster final in Fitzgerald Stadium, Clifford was raised on nothing coming easy against Cork.
Even if his SFC debut against them last year in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was smoother than expected, that breeding makes him naturally cautious.
“Memories were Kerry always getting a tough battle up there. Kerry have been turned over quite a few times in the last 20, 30 years. Just massive crowds and competitive battles and two teams at their best going up against each other was all I remember.”
Cork’s demotion from Division 2 is not something the Fossa star is reading much into, not when he’s seen other teams undermine league form this summer.
“You take the league with a pinch of salt. Look at what Tipperary are doing at the moment in the hurling and in the league you mightn’t have said that they were moving well but you have to take the championship in its own right.
It’s their explosiveness which Clifford recognises, their early goals by Mark Collins and Jamie O’Sullivan in last year’s decider and Brian Hurley twice and Ruairí Deane finding the net quickly against Limerick earlier this month.
How Kerry recovered from those setbacks set the tone for the rest of the game.
“Stephen O’Brien got a goal pretty quickly straight after it so that settled things pretty quickly. That just shows the danger that’s there from the Cork forwards. They had three goals scored in the first 10 or 15 minutes (v Limerick) so that’s where they have a big threat. We’ll be expecting a massive challenge.”
Talk of a poor attendance on Saturday matters little to Clifford when there’s silverware at stake and automatic qualification for Super 8, Group 1 along with the Ulster champions. “We know we will get a tough challenge from Cork so that’s what we will be focusing on rather than what crowds will be there. We’re just trying to do a job.”