"The phone is away for four hours. It’s a great way to switch off." - nothing like a good game of golf for Clifford 2 months ago

"The phone is away for four hours. It’s a great way to switch off." - nothing like a good game of golf for Clifford

Kerry have four weeks off now, before they play an All-Ireland quarter final, but Paudie Clifford won't be twiddling his thumbs.

If it's not football then it's golf and if it's not golf then it's horse-racing. The 26-year-old says he'll find out tonight if, over the next week or two, the Kerry footballers will be released to play with their clubs but he knows one man in Fossa who'd love for that to happen.

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“He’s very passionate," Clifford says of his father Dermot, who's the chairman of Fossa GAA.

"He just lives and breathes football, really. Very passionate about Fossa and trying to bring Fossa onto the next level. So that's his main aim and Kerry is probably second for him. He doesn’t discuss much when it comes to Kerry, stays out of that side of things but when it comes to the club he discusses things!"

Dermot grew up on a farm but, even though Paudie now owns a couple of racehorses, it wasn't an interest that was passed down from father to son.

"They’re only four-year-olds, national hunt horses. They haven’t ran or anything yet. One is with Eoin O’Grady, he’s in Mallow. And a fella called Cian Collins, he’s starting out his training career up in Trim.We’ll have to wait and see. There’s 10 of us in one syndicate, and there’s three of us in another one. It will be a bit of craic hopefully.

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"I don’t know really (where the interest came out of.) Dad grew up on a farm alright, but there wasn’t horses there. So I don’t know where I got it from, but I like horse-racing, yeah."

If it's not horse-racing then it's golf. The Kerry centre forward showed great talent at a young age when he got his handicap down to four and while he still plays the odd round, and still plays off four, he doesn't play enough to get lower.

"I suppose I would have considered it (playing golf on an amateur circuit.)

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"But I kind of lost the love of practicing. It’s long lonely hours. I played in a lot of the big junior competitions, and I actually played in two and I missed the cut in both of them.

"I was thinking maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe if I kept at it, I might have made it. But I don’t, maybe I was just a bit off. I know the standard, you look at the standard around the world now, so many people can win the majors, the standard of American golf has gone through the roof. I think the way to do it now is for young Irish golfers is to go on the American college circuit, that seems to be the way. It gets you prepared for the PGA Tour the best way."

"It was like a deal for junior members to get into Killarney Golf and Fishing Club at a reduced price at the time (that got us started.) And I think there was a lot of new juniors gone in, and we had a lot of success in golf after that then because of it being open to more of the public. We ended up doing well as a team in Killarney. We went to a lot of different places together. We all played together, which is why we loved it so much really."

"I don't play as much at the moment now, but when it’s all over (with Kerry), I'll be out maybe twice a week or whatever."

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"The great thing about it is, especially playing the course in Killarney, you’re right beside the lake, it’s very relaxing. The phone is away for three and a half, four hours. It’s a great way to switch off. If the weather is good, it makes it."

Indeed, if Clifford was looking for inspiration to balance golf and gaelic he wouldn't have to look too far. Former Kerry and John Mitchels footballer Mick Morris won All-Irelands with the Kingdom in '69 and 70 and, not too long after, he became one of the stars of the Irish golfing circuit, winning the Close championship in '78 as well as a south of Ireland in '82.

A general view of the 10th green, Killeen Course, Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, during the 2010 Irish Open.

Back to the football, some said that the Munster cake-walk, and the lay-off that followed did Kerry no good last year and while Clifford would prefer if they were out sooner than four weeks time, he says all they can do is keep training as competitive as possible.

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"We just have to ensure training is as competitive as possible to prepare us. That’s probably the main thing we can take out of it."

And he takes it as a sign that, even though the management team and squad all knew that his brother David would miss the Munster final due to a calf injury, the news didn't get out until the team was named.

"It shows we have a tight-knit panel, tight-knit backroom team."