Seamus Moynihan: David Clifford deserves more protection

Seamus Moynihan: David Clifford deserves more protection

Seamus Moynihan has called on referee Maurice Deegan, his umpires, and linesmen to offer David Clifford a greater level of protection in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.

The Kerry legend, Clifford’s Fossa manager, was taken aback by the man-handling the 20-year-old was subjected to in the Super 8 draw against Donegal last month.

Moynihan fully accepts the 2018 young footballer of the year is going to receive attention from defenders.

However, he hopes Deegan, who has officiated in two Kerry-Tyrone Championship games in the past (the 2008 final and 2015 semi-final), is given more assistance by his linesmen than Paddy Neilan was three weeks ago in stamping out any underhand tactics against Clifford.

“No different to the other counties’ marquee forwards, it’s down to the umpires, down to the linesman (to spot off the ball incidents),” says Moynihan.

“Against Donegal, he got absolutely no protection. The referee was doing the show on his own that day and he got no help from his linesmen or umpires, and it baffles me in Croke Park how a team can get away with the off-the-ball stuff like that.

Fingers crossed, they will be a little wiser to this because nobody wants to see a great player like that being muscled or taken out of a game because he is being pulled or dragged down to the ground.

Moynihan has seen at club level and with East Kerry how Clifford has dealt with the added attention on him.

In the second half of last October’s Kerry semi-final replay with Dingle, he took exception to his man-marker’s treatment and was sent off for reacting but in the main he has been level-headed and his club boss expects more of the same against Tyrone.

“The key thing here is, of course, he’s going to be under close scrutiny, no different to Maurice Fitz in his day or Mikey Sheehy and then Colm Cooper and James O’Donoghue.

Gooch had two backs hanging off him for most of his career. David is going to get all of that as he did against Donegal. He’s fully aware of what he’s going to get.”

Clifford still picked off a couple of points from play against Donegal but Moynihan says he knows it will be a lot more claustrophobic on Sunday.

He’s not going to get a huge amount of space. Colm Cavanagh will be standing in front of him and he’s going to have to make his decisions very fast.

“He’s going to have to work hard to get into the spaces and criss-cross because he’s not going to get ball standing with 30 or 40 yards of space around him so he can take on his man. David is getting that attention now at county level and he has been getting it day-in, day-out at club level and he has endured it at junior level where there would be three or four guys hanging over him at all stages. No different to Conor McManus, you just have to adapt your game.

“But he’s a poacher and if opportunities arise he will make them count.”

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