David Clifford named Kerry captain for 2020

East Kerry two-time All Star takes the mantle despite not turning 21 until Wednesday

David Clifford has been named Kerry captain for 2020. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

David Clifford has been named Kerry captain for 2020. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

County champions East Kerry have confirmed their nomination of David Clifford for the Kerry football captaincy for 2020, a sort of early birthday present for the two-time All Star who doesn’t turn 21 until Wednesday.

There has often been some idiosyncrasy around the naming of the Kerry football captain, and in some ways Clifford is the latest in line.

Kerry are one of the last counties to afford their county champions the honour of nominating the team captaincy (similarly with Kilkenny in hurling) only it’s not always a straightforward process.

East Kerry ended their 20-year wait for that title last November, beating three-time defending champions Dr Crokes in a fairly rousing contest. As one of the nine divisional or district teams, however, East Kerry didn’t get the honour of representing Kerry in the Munster club championship (that honour went back to Austin Stacks, who won the eight-team Division One club title back in early May).

But they do get to nominate the captain, and the star forward has confirmed as their pick. Clifford’s club Fossa, in Killarney, are one of those clubs that form East Kerry; Clifford also has a close relationship with Kerry manager Peter Keane, who also managed him as a Kerry minor on the team that won back-to-back All-Ireland medals in 2016 and 2017.

Having won his back-to-back All Star in 2019, Clifford chipped in with 1-3 in the county final, older brother Paudie equally influential, and given Clifford’s already pivotal and assured place in the Kerry team he always appeared the most likely candidate for that captaincy in 2020.

Still he doesn’t turn 21 until Wednesday, which would make him the youngest Kerry captain in some time. It may also add some further weight to his still young shoulders.

There were others for East Kerry to consider: in the same county final Jack Sherwood rediscovered his best defensive qualities, although there was no guarantee he’ll be a starter with Kerry next year; likewise with Dara Moynihan, who also showed plenty of his potential this summer under Keane.

However some traditions die hard in the GAA, especially with Kerry football, and while the captaincy nomination issue was raised again last year, that honour remains with East Kerry.

There was also some debate about tradition in 2019 too, when Gavin White was nominated captain by Dr Crokes: at 22, he had never played a single league game for Kerry, and while he did start the drawn All-Ireland final against Dublin, didn’t start the replay – and Paul Murphy took over the captaincy instead.

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