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15th Jan 2023

Paudie Clifford had the only response needed after being cleaned out by vicious elbow

Patrick McCarry

Paudie Clifford

As RED as red card as you will see all year.

In the closing stages of the All-Ireland junior football final, it all went to hell in a hand-basket. Paudie Clifford survived one brutal foul but could not help himself in the closing stages.

Stewartstown had led Fossa by three points at half-time, in Croke Park, but could not contain David Clifford forever. The second half saw the Kerry side score 12 points to five from Stewartstown.

As the game reached added time, Stewartstown were attempting to fashion a scoring chance when an attack broke down. Paudie Clifford was back in defence and mopped up a contested ball when Anton Coyle levelled him with a brutal elbow to the head.

Paudie Clifford with an apt response

TV replays showed just how flush the point of Coyle’s elbow had caught the head of Paudie Clifford. As the Kerry star stayed down to receive treatment, the match officials consulted and a red card was shown.

Paudie Clifford was back on his feet as Coyle, after some words of self defence, turned to leave the pitch. The Fossa No.6 patted Coyle on the chest and, blood still streaming from his mouth, pointed him in the direction of the dressing room.

Victory was within sight and it was the Stewartstown men that looked to be losing their cool. Clifford may have wanted to say more than that to Coyle but took the blow and had the last laugh.

He was, however, not in the clear yet.

A final fracas, deep into time added on, saw both David and Paudie Clifford sent off. In the end, they were the two Fossa men sent to the sideline while Stewartstown had four sent off.

“I certainly won’t be holding any grudges with them fellas and I hope they’ll do the same,” said the victorious David Clifford, after the game. “There’s so much emotion. But these things can happen.”

While David was left to re-live the game with TG4, Paudie Clifford was handed the microphone after lifting the trophy, and he settled a couple of scores.

Kerry versus Tyrone, in whatever way you want to package it, is always a lively affair.

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