Aidan O’Mahony: Clifford tops my Munster men – but it’s not who you think

Aidan's pick of the top players from the Munster Championship

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It’s very hard to know what the next few months hold for the GAA. Will we have games behind closed doors? What impact will social distancing have on the various championships?

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We’re all trying to stay positive and whenever we do get back to business, there are plenty of players I’m looking forward to seeing take to the field. And none more so than the following sextet, who I think will shine in Munster.

Allianz Football League Division 1, Edendork GAC, Co. Tyrone 9/2/2020
Tyrone vs Kerry
Kerry’s Dara Moynihan and Niall Sludden of Tyrone
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

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PAUDIE CLIFFORD (KERRY)

The one I’m looking forward to seeing most in a Kerry shirt is a Clifford but it’s not David. His older brother Paudie was the standout player in the Kerry SFC last year. He was on the tip of many people’s tongues coming into the league and then he got injured. While we’ve yet to see him, he’s somebody who’ll definitely feature in the Munster Championship. I love watching him because he runs at the opposition players every single time.

He’s one of those players who makes things happen.

He’s very good on the ball and he’s always looking for the ball. Kerry’s first game in the Munster Championship is against Cork and how better to outfox a defender than putting in someone they wouldn’t have seen before.

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In the Kerry Championship games he played in, everything went through him. He’s very robust, he’s got a massive work ethic and he’s a very classy footballer. And obviously he knows who’s inside waiting for the ball in his brother David as well. I think he could be a trump card for Kerry.

SEAN POWTER (CORK)

You could maybe look at Luke Connolly here but the player for me over the last couple of years has been Sean Powter. Yes, he’s been plagued by injury but he’s a player you can play in any position. I remember him having a massive battle against Donnchadh Walsh a couple of years ago and on that day, he covered every blade of grass with Donnchadh, which is a very hard thing to do.

Given he can play anywhere, Cork might think of putting him on David Clifford when they meet Kerry but for me, he’s a huge player for Cork. From watching him in the league so far, I just love what he does. If Cork can keep him fit, I think he can be a huge player for them.

Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Semple Stadium, Co. Tipperary 11/5/2019
Tipperary vs Limerick
Tipperary’s Conor Sweeney and Sean O’Dea of Limerick
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

CONOR SWEENEY (TIPPERARY)

While Tipperary’s form in the league has been up and down, for me their big player is Conor Sweeney. He hasn’t maybe lived up to the expectations in the last couple of years after what he did in 2014 but this year, his form has been good in the league. I think he will be their ‘go-to guy’ come the Championship and I think he’s a player who can get up to the levels of a Michael Quinlivan and Declan Browne before him.

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They really need a guy like him and I think this is the year when Conor Sweeney will really fulfil his potential.

Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final, Pairc Ui Rinn, Cork 1/6/2019
Cork vs Limerick
Cork’s Kevin Flahive and Padraig De Brun of Limerick
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

IAIN CORBETT (LIMERICK)

Limerick haven’t performed like they can over the last couple of years but Billy Lee has really brought them on this year. They beat Cork in the McGrath Cup and their main man for me is Iain Corbett. He’s their centre-back, he’s their captain and he’s a rejuvenated player.

I saw him in the Limerick Championship last year and he was a massive driving force for his club Newcastle West and he’s brought that form into the Limerick team as well. If Limerick are to go anywhere in the Munster Championship, he really needs to be the driving force for them because he is their main man.

DAVID TUBRIDY (CLARE)

Clare have the likes of Keelan Sexton and Eoin Cleary but the player for me has to be David Tubridy because I marked him about eight years ago. I’ve seen him for Clare in the league already this year and they’ve come up with some massive results. David seems to playing out of his skin at the moment but in fairness to him, he’s been doing it for years. He has the look of a player who’s really enjoying his football. At full forward, he’s been a revelation so far this year and he’s a cornerstone for Clare.

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifiers Round 3, TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar 29/6/2019
Westmeath vs Clare
David Tubridy of Clare celebrates scoring a goal
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

ROBBIE FLYNN (WATERFORD)

I spent a bit of time down in Waterford last year with the Rathgormack panel and two lads who impressed me were Conor Murray and Robbie Flynn. They won the Waterford county final last year and for me, Robbie Flynn is a player who has just stood out for them. He plays at cornerback but he’s one of your typical old school defenders. He’s a man marker and he’s always in his man’s pocket.

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He made the GAA team of the week earlier in the year and from what I’ve seen of him, he’s been very good. Given that every team that Waterford will face this year will have a marquee forward, they’re going to need a player like Robbie. I think he’ll be well able to hold his own against some of the bigger teams.

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