Paudie Clifford opening up opportunities in Kerry attack, says captain Paul Murphy

There is no doubting the impact made this summer by Paudie Clifford.

The Fossa star has ignited this lethal Kerry attack, acting in a quarterback-like role in the half-forward line.

Such feats have not gone unnoticed, as he picked up man-of-the-match awards in the wins over Tipperary and Cork.

He made his first senior championship start this summer, and has kicked on. After being forced to wait for such a breakthrough, he is certainly seizing his opportunity.

“I played with him for East Kerry last year. He had a really good year for us,” said Kerry captain Paul Murphy.

“He was very good that year [2019] as well and was called into the panel on the back of that, for 2020. He’s doing really well. He’s very fit, he’s working very hard and he strikes me as a guy who has got a jersey and is not going to give up this jersey without a fight.

“It’s brilliant for us, he’s putting in big performances and he’s working very hard for the team. He’s doing off the ball dirty work as well, he’s not shirking any of that. He’s playing really well and we’re all hoping he’ll continue his form.”

His searing form has eased the burden on his brother David, and Sean O’Shea.

“Seanie and David, they’re two very level-headed guys,” Murphy continued, “they get a lot of attention but I don’t think they take a lot of notice of it.

“Paudie is coming in and he’s a very good distributor of the ball. He’s probably opening up opportunities for the two boys and the likes of Paul Geaney and Stephen O’Brien as well. So he’s adding a lot to our forward line, he’s working hard for the team. So we’re very happy with how Paudie is performing.”

Perhaps Clifford is the missing piece of the jigsaw, after a disappointing 2020 campaign that saw Kerry dumped out at the hands of Cork.

“It was a difficult loss last year, there’s no two ways about it. But I think it’s a long time ago,” Murphy said.

“We have possibly taken things from it and maybe it’s in the back of individual guys’ minds. We’re just trying to build every day we go out. There’s a good togetherness, there’s a good group work ethic. People are working for each other in the squad and there’s a good camaraderie there.

“I think that is testament to guys in the squad and the spirit that Peter and the management team have built around us. Everyone has their own motivations and that possibly is part of the motivation for us but we’re just taking it step by step and we’re pleased with our performances so far.”

Next up is Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Tyrone.

“They’re a serious outfit,” he said of the Red Hands.

“They are always a very hard team to beat and they are really good in the transition from defence to attack and they have a lot of forwards that will hurt you on the scoreboard if they are allowed to. It’s not a situation where you are playing a team where if you shut down one or two players you would be happy enough that they will not rack up a score.

“Tyrone have five or six players who are capable of racking up big individual tallies. It’s a big challenge for us, a challenge we are looking forward to and it’s great to be back in a game like this in a game at Croke Park. It’s a privilege to be part of it.”

They are a serious outfit and we have a big challenge ahead of us.

Murphy is braced for a battle against Tyrone

Murphy feels the Kingdom’s National League semi-final rout of Tyrone with have little impact.

“It’s a new game and it’s a completely different game really,” he explained.

“We had a good result against Tyrone in the league but I don’t think you could compare the two matches in terms of their importance and what’s at stake.

“That match was in Killarney where we have a really good record. We had no travel to the game compared to Tyrone, this is in Croke Park, it’s an All-Ireland semi-final, Munster versus Ulster up there. Tyrone have come through a very difficult Ulster championship campaign beating Division 1 teams in Donegal and Monaghan and they’re developing as a team and as a squad.

“They were able to ship the blow of losing a number of players to close contact situations with Covid and it didn’t affect them in any way against Monaghan. They are a serious outfit and we have a big challenge ahead of us.”

Watch Kerry vs Tyrone live on Sky Sports Arena from 2:30pm Saturday.

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