David Clifford passes into Croke Park legend as breathtaking late show steals Hogan Cup glory for St. Brendan's 4 years ago

David Clifford passes into Croke Park legend as breathtaking late show steals Hogan Cup glory for St. Brendan's

Seamus Moynihan, Pat Spillane, Colm Cooper, David Clifford.

Remember that name - David Clifford.

St. Brendan's Killarney captured the Hogan Cup for the first time in 24 years after a glorious comeback and a possessed David Clifford left St. Pat's Maghera heartbroken wondering what the hell just happened.

In the space of 20 electrifying minutes, the Kerry men somehow swung a four-point deficit 11 points in the other direction as the Munster champions ran out 2-13 to 2-6 winners in the end with a merciless late show that left the scoreboard scared shitless from reflecting the real story of a tight, ding-dong encounter.

Jack Doherty has a shot on goal 2/4/2016

It was the Derry outfit, the 2013 champions and 2014 runners-up, who started the most comfortably and they'd look that dominant for the guts of 45 minutes until captain Conor Glass got his marching orders from referee David Gough.

David Carroll had to spring to The Sem's rescue early on with a superb penalty save that denied Francis Kearney.

St. Pat's kept coming though and a fine ball from Conor Glass split open the Killarney rearguard once more and Patrick Kearney made absolutely no mistake with the finish.

The county Derry school, in hindsight, would rue a number of missed opportunities and they crept in just ahead at the break, 1-5 to 0-7 - Brendan's presumably feeling relieved that they were trailing by just the minimum.

Still though, when Shane McGuigan worked his magic from that wand everyone knows he so capable of weaving, it looked for all the world that St. Pat's were steamrolling to the school's sixth All-Ireland football title.

A fine pass forward from Patrick Kearney started the move before McGuigan demonstrated just what separates the good forwards from the best forwards. A point was on, a goal wasn't. Well, not for the ordinary amongst us. Shane McGuigan doesn't dabble in the ordinary and with one cruel dummy, the Slaughtneil attacker sent the defender shopping and cut inside to rip the Croke Park net with panache and power.

Four points down, 20 minutes remaining, St. Pat's running riot. Game over? Not on your nelly. What St. Brendan's did in the closing stages of the Hogan Cup final will go down in history in the prestigious Kerry school. What David Clifford was about to embark on would be remembered forever in Ireland's most hallowed stadium.

On the 45-minute mark, everything changed.

The Derry underage sensation heading for Australia at the end of the term to take up a contract with Hawthorn was gone. St. Pat's had lost their captain, their leader, their fulcrum.

But not everyone realised the significance of it.

St. Brendan's rallied.

Even before David Clifford hit the net to even think about taking his personal tally to 2-5, the Fossa forward was in frightening form.

Jack Doherty got his school back on level terms before St. Brendan's lost Daniel O'Brien to a red card too and, at 0-12 to 2-6, with less than five minutes to play, it was 14 v 14 as young men from two different sides of the island poured their hearts out on the plains of Croke Park.

One man wanted it more though. One man was so roasting hot that you'd have scolded yourself even looking at him. One man was playing above himself, playing above the game, the occasion, the stadium. David Clifford was playing in another dimension.

And, when he dove and stretched and got a hand to that teasing ball laid on for him by the impressive Evan Cronin, there was just no looking back for the men from the Kingdom.

Then as the MacRory champions huffed and puffed looking for a last-gasp equaliser, Clifford struck again. Pace, skill, thumping precision. Magic.

For the first time since 1992, St. Brendan's were crowned Hogan Cup champions.

David Clifford, remember that name.

David Clifford in action against Patrick Turner 2/4/2016