Former Kerry captain Ambrose O’Donovan has claimed that current skipper David Clifford, and top forwards nationwide, badly need greater protection from referees.
O’Donovan is still furious with Clifford’s red card for two bookings in February’s Allianz League loss to Tyrone, a decision he termed ‘a disgrace’.
Clifford raged after his second booking for a tussle with Tyrone sub Ben McDonnell who appeared to start the scrap five minutes after coming on.
All-Ireland winning captain O’Donovan told Radio Kerry, in an interview that can be accessed on their website, that he was disappointed the incident wasn’t highlighted more and reckons top talents like Clifford aren’t protected enough.
“From a GAA perspective, absolutely, I hate that kind of stuff coming into the game,” said O’Donovan, who claimed Clifford was deliberately antagonised. “It’s not just David Clifford, top players from other counties as well do come in for this kind of treatment. It’s something we need to stamp out of the game.
“It wasn’t highlighted really to the way I would have liked it to be highlighted. David Clifford is a fantastic footballer, one of the best we’ve ever seen.
“He has all the talents and everything else. But outside of the fact that he’s from Kerry, let him be from any other county in the country, these players deserve protection.
“They’re not looking for special treatment, all they want is fair play, give them a fair cut. David Clifford is certainly a good footballer than can look after himself, no question about it.
“So you’re not looking for special treatment but play within the rules. This kind of cynical stuff that certain teams adopt, and to be fair to Tyrone they’re good at it as well, you need to stamp out that kind of stuff.
“It was a disgrace for David Clifford to be sent off that day. We can do nothing about that now but certainly umpires and linesmen must have a bigger role to play.”
Three-time All-Ireland winner O’Donovan welcomed the GAA’s project restart and said he can’t wait for a win-or-bust Munster semi-final between Kerry and Cork.
The GAA hasn’t decided on Championship structures yet but O’Donovan anticipates a provincial knock-out system.
Kerry and Cork have already been paired off together in the last four in Munster and if it is a knock-out format then the losers will be out.
“What a fixture to look forward to, Kerry-Cork above in Pairc Ui Chaoimh,” said O’Donovan. “I hope the crowds will be left in. Knock-out Championship, fabulous. I know people will say, ‘Oh, that’s rubbish’, but for me it’s fabulous. What a fixture to have awaiting you when you get back playing football.”
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