'They'd be giving them a hand with squats, ideas and advice about kicking' - Rennie hauls Cliffords' grá for Fossa 11 months ago

'They'd be giving them a hand with squats, ideas and advice about kicking' - Rennie hauls Cliffords' grá for Fossa

Dermot Clifford was once a referee and, wherever he was reffing, he'd bring his two sons along with him.

Growing up, that was the way it was.


Dermot is now the chairman of Fossa GAA club, a full-blown Gaelic football fanatic too and it's said that, for all the successes his sons have had this year, with Kerry, with East Kerry, and with whoever else you want, none of them meant as much to him as that Kerry junior championship win for Fossa.

What's said by the father is often heard by the son so it's no wonder the Clifford boys have such a strong connection with their club.

Fossa are competing against Stewartstown Harps in the AIB All-Ireland junior football final this weekend and ahead of that game, the Kerry club's midfielder Matt Rennie told us all about their maiden voyage to Croke Park.

"It's surreal," Rennie says.


"You get hundreds of people coming up to you, not just the Cliffords after games, congratulating you and what not.

"So we're kind of basking in their superstardom a small bit. But it's great, the more people that come and watch it, the better it is for the club - it'll put Fossa on the map. So it's great for Kerry, for Fossa, and it's great to be a part of it."

It certainly has been surreal. A junior club football team has never before had the profile that Fossa have now, what with punters travelling from other counties and provinces to whatever ground the boys are playing.


Portlaoise on Saturday was something of a circus.

Then there's the pitch invasions, the autograph hunters and the selfie-takers - all of them with one thing in mind - having their moment with David Clifford.

But Rennie says that the fanfare has been of great benefit to the team as a whole.

"It's slightly strange alright.


"With the Cliffords, probably two of the best players in the country, it's given us a lot of exposure, but it's great.

"It's great for other players because it gives you exposure, so if you're playing well with the exposure, you might get called into other teams. And sure with all the crowds there, it just gives you more motivation and more of a burst on the field."

Rennie has been playing with Cliffords for years but he says that, despite their success and stardom, they remain Fossa to the core. He couldn't speak highly enough of them as club-men.

"Both Paudie and David are fantastic club-men. They have Fossa in their blood, stemming down from their father Dermot, who's the chairman of the club. You have no idea how dedicated they are to the club.

"Everything about the Cliffords is Fossa really, it's in their DNA."


He says that, at times, you'd see the lads down in the Fossa field or up in the gym advising young players on how to squat, how to kick the ball correctly.

"They are brilliant role models for the young players in our club, they'd be going down to the gym in our clubhouse, helping young players who are looking up to them."

"They'd be giving them a hand with squats, and you'd see players kicking and they'd be down giving them information, ideas and advice. That's unbelievable for the young lads, to have access to that, I wish I had it when I was growing up."

And on the field, well, that's where the magic happens.

"It's unbelievable. He's so intelligent on the ball," Rennie says of David.

"The runs he makes are super, and the one thing I notice from playing with him is that he'll always be moving. So even if the first run doesn't work, it doesn't matter because he knows the pocket of space is behind him and he's able to move into that space. That allows the kicker then to delay for a second, and pick him out."

"When he gets it then, he never gives it away. Even if he has three fellas around him, and he looks bottled up, he'll find a yard and always make the right decision. That is very rare in a footballer, to always do it, week in, week out, year in, year out. That's probably the genius of him.

"What he does for the rest of our forwards is he gets so much attention, there'll be some plan in place, so it frees up other players on the team who have the talent to punish the opposition. So it's great."

10 January 2023; Matt Rennie of Fossa, Kerry, pictured ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Football Junior Club Championship Final, which takes place this Sunday, January 15th at Croke Park at 1.30pm. Now in its 32nd year supporting the GAA Club Championships, AIB is extremely proud to once again celebrate the communities that play such a role in sustaining our national games. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile