Mikey Sheehy expects David Clifford to bounce back to form with a vengeance in next month’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Monaghan or Tyrone.
After scoring just one point from a free against Cork in Sunday’s landslide Munster final win over Cork in Killarney, Kerry great Sheehy anticipates the Fossa star will make life hell for whoever is assigned to him in Croke Park on August 14 or 15.
Promoting a soon-to-be-launched Kerry jersey commemorating the centenary of the Irish Civil War and the GAA’s role in healing the scars from it, Sheehy said: “David didn’t have a good day at the office going by his high standards and you have to give credit to that young man (Seán) Meehan. He’s a serious footballer. You wouldn’t have thought he’d have only scored one point of the 4-22.
“You’d nearly be saying now: ‘God help the corner-back who is going to be marking David in the All-Ireland semi-final’. You would hope there will be a reaction but David is such an outrageous talent that it was a great performance by Kerry to do what they did without him scoring heavily.
“It wasn’t a total off-day for him. You don’t get to see it all on TV but he was making runs off the ball all the time, drawing defenders with him and away from team-mates with the ball, creating space for them. He was engaging the Cork defenders and that has to be kept in mind.”
Eight-time All-Ireland SFC winner Sheehy read David Moran’s comments about the team spirit in the Kerry camp being the best he has experienced.
Sheehy feels the stinging criticism from last November’s defeat to Cork brought the players closer together.
“When teams get hit by criticism, I think it gels them. David Moran mentioned it after the game and you can see the team spirit in how they’re playing. They’re fighting for each other and they’re a happy camp.
“There was no social media in our time but I know when negative things were said and written the bond grew between us and they sent out a clear message in Killarney that they are a very united bunch.”
Sheehy was impressed by the composure of Kerry after the first quarter.
“What pleased me most about it was the lack of panic in the players when they started poorly.
“Cork were out of the blocks quickly and there was going to be a reaction from them because pundits were predicting a landslide, which eventually happened. But they did go five points up and were giving us plenty of problems.
“Realistically, this Kerry team is still a relatively young group but then it was put up to them they responded, stuck to what they were doing best. My God, the pace in them when they got going and countered Cork.
“Brian Ó Beaglaoich shored up things at the back and you have to give credit to Peter Keane and his management team for solving the problem that was making life difficult for Jason Foley against Brian Hurley.”
Sheehy also singled out Mike Breen and Paudie Clifford for praise.
“Young Breen is a huge plus. I wouldn’t know a lot about him other than what I saw of him at underage and he’s a fine footballer and athlete.
“Paudie up front, he has an incredible work-rate but he was showing that form in club championship and was probably the best forward apart from David and Seánie O’Shea. You could see the ability that he had.
“He just seems to be getting better with every game. Against Clare, Paudie gave a 40-yard kick-pass into Seánie O’Shea’s chest and it was in the back of the net. He can do that on a regular basis, his vision is great and he can get in your face too. He has become a huge player.”
One thing that does worry Sheehy slightly is how far Ulster is ahead of Munster in terms of competitiveness and Kerry might be lacking in battle fitness for the semi-final against Monaghan or Tyrone.
“Clare was probably the toughest game our fellas had and we won it well in the end. Are they battle-hardened enough? I think they’ll be ready for whoever win the Ulster final but it’s going to be an almighty test.”