How David Clifford has compared to Con O'Callaghan this year 11 months ago

How David Clifford has compared to Con O'Callaghan this year

Dublin will play Kerry in this weekend's All-Ireland final with the GAA's two most successful counties going head-to-head in yet another decider.

The traditional heavyweights have produced their fair share of exceptional forwards over the years with names like Fitzgerald, Cooper, Brogan, Donaghy, Connolly, Kilkenny all playing integral roles in their respective successes.

Con O'Callaghan and David Clifford look set to lead the way for the Jacks and the Kingdom over the next decade with both players quickly establishing themselves as some of the best players in the country over the last two seasons.

Clifford led the way for Kerry with 0-5 in their All-Ireland semi-final win over Tyrone earlier this month while two second-half goals from O'Callaghan effectively killed off any hopes Mayo had of reaching another All-Ireland final.

Shoulder and back injuries have limited Clifford to just seven games this year while O'Callaghan has had some better luck with injury playing in 12 games for the Dubs.

Clifford announced himself to the wider Irish public last year with a staggering 4-14 over three Super 8 games but this year he has yet to hit the back of the net. However, he has scored 29 points over seven games for an average of 4.14 points per game.

Meanwhile O'Callaghan has scored just 16 points over 12 games, however, he has been deadly in front of goal with six goals to his name. His averages for this season are 0.5 goals per game and 1.33 points per game across league and championship.

His two goal performance against Mayo represents his best performance of the season while Cavan are the only side this year to have kept O'Callaghan scoreless.

Meanwhile Clifford's best performance of the season was the seven point haul he scored against Mayo in the Super 8's, while interestingly, the lowest point total he had this season was the two points he scored during the league final loss to Mayo in what was just his second game back for the Kingdom.

Here's what some of their peers and the pundits have had to say about each player over the last year.

David Clifford 

Kieran Donaghy on The GAA Hour: "I'll probably say, when I'm older, that I was lucky to play with him for a season and was in there, in the mix. That Clones game [against Monaghan] will probably be on his highlight reel for the next 15 years, and my paw [setting up his equalising goal] will be involved in it.

"He's part of this new generation and he's so mature. He's a serial winner, too, with minors and Hogan Cups. That's all he knows, is performing on the big days and playing well.

"I never had any doubts about him, but as soon as you're around and near him you know. I didn't even talk to him before the Kildare game. I'd been in his ear for that Monaghan game, saying, 'We'll be tested here, big time.'

"But I looked over after five minutes [against Monaghan] and he was handling his own business. I didn't have to say anything to him."

Joe Brolly on The Sunday Game: "This kid Clifford, who I thought was gonna take a while to bed in, he is the first genuine superstar of Gaelic football to come along in a number of years. 1-5 the last day on scraps, 1-3 today."

Marc Ó Sé on The GAA Hour: "Gooch (Colm Cooper) made it, Darragh Ó Sé did it, Seamus Moynihan did it. Now Clifford, I've seen him and he's performed admirably in games, in particular against the stronger teams where you knew he'd be up against it.

"This fella is just.... I mean, if you stand alongside of him, just, the size of him! He's 6-foot-4 and he's built accordingly. I watched him in the league games and he can win low ball and high ball. 

"Particularly with the high expectations that were placed on him, he's answered those calls."

Con O'Callaghan

Alan Brogan on The GAA Hour: "He's a strong man. Even though he looks quite small in stature, he's very well built. He's strong in the air.

"He's a ball-winner, that's his main attribute for me. He can obviously score as well but his ball-winning is fantastic, right from an early age you could see that in him.

""There was this perception that he's a nice footballer and a nice young lad and stuff and maybe he's shaved the head to change that perception. But he does look a lot tougher now."

Charlie Redmond: "He's got a chiselled jaw, his frame is much bigger, his biceps and triceps are there to be seen. That wasn't there two years ago. And we're seeing that development in a player which obviously there's been a lot of work in the gym over the winter and throughout the year.

"He identifies to me the commitment that's required by any player that wants to play for Dublin. It's not enough just to have the talent, talent is not enough.

"You have to be prepared to work as hard as anyone else on the squad. To sacrifice holidays, your social life and be a player, and a player only for Dublin."

Peter Canavan on Sky Sports: "The continued upward learning curve of Con O'Callaghan is interesting. He is now so central to this Dublin team in terms of his ball-winning capacity. He can win the ball whatever way, any way it comes in. We all know he's a goalscorer, but now he's setting up colleagues for scores as well.

He's developing into a real all-round footballer."