"I go back to when I was 20, thinking oh my God, imagine being at that level" 1 year ago

"I go back to when I was 20, thinking oh my God, imagine being at that level"

The average age of the Kerry team that started the drawn All-Ireland final was just 24.


Two of the starters are only 20 years of age (Clifford and O'Connor.) Two more are only 21 (Sean O'Shea and Jason Foley,) while Tom O'Sullivan is just 22.

The majority of these lads - excluding O'Connor - got their first taste of senior inter-county football in 2018. Clifford and O'Shea ripped it up under Eamon Fitzmaurice in their maiden season. Their smooth transition was hardly surprising though, given the profile they'd carried from minor level.

On the other hand, Tom O'Sullivan was on and off the team in 2018. Foley was dropped a few times, most notably for the Monaghan game after a tough day out against Galway. Fellow youngsters Brian Ó Beaglaoich and Gavin White were also part of the 'take it or leave it' club.

But a lot can be learned in the space of the year. From peripheral player to potential All-Star, Tom O'Sullivan's shoot to stardom has perhaps been the most drastic. There are still some weaknesses to his game - like sticking too rigidly to a man-marking job when the danger lies elsewher -  but his record of keeping Peter Harte, Cillian O’Sullivan, Jamie Brennan, James Carr and Paul Kerrigan all scoreless this summer speaks for itself. He'll be there for years to come.

Ó Beaglaoich and Foley have also established themselves in the team. Ó Beaglaoich has been somewhat of a late bolter but the Gaeltacht man fared well in the final on Niall Scully, while also imposing his own will on the game. Foley has also grew in too it after being thrown in at the deep end. His main weakness is the same as O'Sullivan's above, but a winter of reflection will surely see him come on in leaps and bounds by next summer.

As you would expect, Clifford and O'Shea - those twice-in-a-generation type talents have also kicked on. Both looked nailed for All-Stars. Their achievements, feats and performances hardly need emphasising.


Kildare legend Johnny Doyle summed up just how good a place Kerry football is in right now on Monday's GAA Hour Show.

"The winner gets all the bouquets, but Kerry did an awful lot right across both games," he began.

"I'm looking at Clifford, looking at Sean O'Shea. These guys, These are young lads, just 20/21 years of age. I go back to when I was 20, thinking oh my God, Imagine being at that level, at that age. In 10 years time, 12 years time, we're going to be looking at these players still pulling the strings for Kerry, a couple of All-Irelands to their credit..."

When you put it like that, it's impossible to argue.


"So they deserve a lot of credit for where they're after coming from. They were two unbelievable games," added Doyle.

"Clifford stood up again, he's a very young guy. He'll benefit from the experience and Kerry you would feel they have a huge amount of things to look forward to," added Cian Ward.

You can watch The GAA Hour's All-Ireland final review show here.