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top dog David Clifford has potential to be best GAA player ever, says former Donegal ace Brendan Devenney

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'Out on his own': Kerry's David Clifford

'Out on his own': Kerry's David Clifford

'Out on his own': Kerry's David Clifford

David Clifford could go down as the greatest GAA player of all time, according to former Donegal ace Brendan Devenney.

Clifford has wowed at senior level since making the giant leap from the underage ranks with the 22-year-old performing a series of scoring feats on his way to becoming one of the game’s most lethal attackers.

Devenney expects the Fossa forward to surpass the achievements of fellow Kerry legends like Pat Spillane and Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper and lay claim to the tag of the greatest by the time his days in green and gold come to an end.

“Clifford has the potential to be the best player that has ever played GAA, that’s how good that fella is. At this age and for him to be doing what he is doing, nothing surprises me,” Devenney told The Football Show on OurGame.ie

“The opening day hat-trick against Galway, it’s as if he’s living some sort of GAA dream for all of us forwards and what we would have dreamed about doing. It’s kind of like Michael Murphy up here when people debate, ‘Who’s the best player to ever play for Donegal?’

“He’s so far ahead and Clifford is already moving out on his own. You’d already think that if he keeps improving, which seems crazy, he could be ranked as the best ever.”

As for his own county, Devenney feels Declan Bonner’s squad is lopsided with attackers ahead of their Division 1 league semi-final clash with All-Ireland champions Dublin on Saturday week.

“We’ve brought through five or six top-quality forwards these last three or four years and we really haven’t been bringing through any defenders,” Devenney said.

“This year we could go into the championship with Neil McGee and Paddy McGrath in our full-back line, two of the lads that were playing in 2012, such is the low productivity of defenders coming through for us.”

Another concern is the absence of talisman Michael Murphy with the Glenswilly powerhouse currently sidelined due to a soft-tissue injury, a common complaint among many inter-county players at present.

“The one game we were really in control of was the Tyrone game and there’s no coincidence that Michael Murphy played that full match and then he didn’t play against Monaghan or Armagh,” Devenney said.

“We’ve seen Donegal be up and down since then and his influence over Donegal, sometimes it’s not about being on the ball, it’s the subtle things. It’s his leadership, talking on the pitch and at times they just go to Michael.

“He might kick a ’45 or kick an outrageous point or take the ball and just slow it down, he just seems to have this thing where he’s in charge and he directs the whole thing.

“We’re seeing loads of soft tissue injuries because of the late comeback. Donegal have seven or eight players that have all got minor injuries, minor niggles, that’s a disaster.

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“The GAA was elite and if it was taken off elite status, fair enough. But allow them to come back training early and we’re seeing the repercussions of that. If it takes out a top player, Con (O’Callaghan), Clifford or the likes of Murphy, these players are the winning and losing of games.

“If they’re out of the game because of injury because we’re back training too late then that’s such a shame.”

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