David Clifford ‘the best I’ve ever seen’ says Eoin ‘Bomber’ Liston

Kerry legend believes the Fossa sharp-shooter gives the Kingdom the edge in the race for this year’s Sam Maguire

Ronan McNamee had to mark Kerry star David Clifford in the 2021 All-Ireland SFC semi-final.
Ronan McNamee had to mark Kerry star David Clifford in the 2021 All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

KERRY legend Eoin Liston believes current Kingdom sharp-shooter David Clifford is the best forward he has ever seen.

The 25-year-old Clifford has been hailed as one of the all-time greats already, and while he says a few come close, no-one has ever been as good.

The former full-forward holds legendary status himself, winning seven All-Ireland medals with Kerry as one of the key figures in Mick O’Dwyer’s all-conquering sides of the 1970s and ‘80s.

Liston lined out in green and gold from 1978 to 1993 and retired with four Allstars to his name. He played with some of the best forwards ever, including Mikey Sheehy, Pat Spillane and John Egan, but ‘Bomber’ reckons Clifford is the best.

The Fossa clubman was named Footballer of the Year in 2022 and 2023 and has won Allstars in five of the last six years since breaking onto the scene in 2018.

“There are different levels,” said Liston.

“He is the best forward I’ve ever seen. There’s been fellas very close to him, but I’d be putting him as the best.

“I’d put Peter Canavan up there, he’s someone that comes to mind, the ‘Gooch’ (Colm Cooper) as well. I’d have those three as the best. I’m biased, I’m a Kerry man, but to me, Clifford is the best forward I’ve seen.”

Clifford will be the main difference between Kerry getting their hands back on Sam Maguire or another county ending a long wait for an All-Ireland title, says Liston.

If Kerry didn’t have Clifford to call on, he’d find it hard to split remaining All-Ireland contenders – Kerry, Armagh, Donegal and Galway.

“Between the four teams that are left, in my opinion, it’s a toss of a coin between them,” said the Beale clubman.

“If I had a free bet, I’d bet on Kerry, mainly because they have David Clifford. But if David Clifford was out, is there much between the four teams? I’d say nothing, that’s my opinion.”

Liston shared a changing room with Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney during the 2011 International Rules series when the pair worked together as part of Anthony Tohill’s management team.

While Liston wants to see his native county get over the line this weekend against Armagh, he wouldn’t begrudge McGeeney and the Orchard county a little luck after the heartache of the last few years.

“I know Kieran McGeeney personally, I’ve seen him operate in the dressing room,” said Liston.

“I’ve seen how committed he is, I’ve seen his enthusiasm, if you can’t perform for that fella, you’re never going to perform.

“My heart goes out for him, to be so close and to not get over the line. Padraig Harrington in golf experienced it, Justin Rose, and so many more, eventually these fellas get over the hill. I’m hoping it won’t be this Saturday, but Armagh are very close.”