HomeNFLClifford announces draft pick from Kerry

Clifford announces draft pick from Kerry


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Saturday marked another milestone in their Irish journey as the franchise made its inaugural NFL Draft selection from Ireland.

Deep within ‘The Kingdom’ of Kerry and surrounding the world famous Lakes of Killarney, Kerry GAA captain and lifelong Steelers fan Paudie Clifford announced the Steelers fourth round selection, which saw Pittsburgh select Mason McCormick, guard for South Dakota State.

Clifford, who won the GAA All Ireland Senior Football Championship with Kerry in 2022, was joined by six local children from surrounding parts of Kerry for the pick. The young athletes waved Terrible Towels when the selection was made, shouting “Here we go, Steelers!” when McCormick was selected.

Deep within the amazing scenery of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, you could see the pride that Clifford had, representing his favorite team.

I was a bit nervous, but it was a great honor”, Clifford said. “It was just surreal to do it and I was very thankful to be asked to do it on behalf of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

The announcement is a key moment in the Steelers growth on the island of Ireland. The Steelers Kicking Clinic, held in Dublin in recent weeks, was a great success, with former Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham and punter Jordan Berry joining the hopefuls in Ireland earlier this month. Clifford has been impressed with the work that the team has put in over the last year on the island of Ireland. “It’s great to see the effort and the amount that they are putting into the Irish side of things. It’s kind of unbelievable how much they have put into it.”

“Being a Steelers fan makes it even more special”.

In the first round of the draft on Thursday, the Steelers selected offensive lineman Troy Fautanu from the University of Washington. Clifford was delighted with the addition. “I’m very excited to see what Troy can do”, he said, beaming when he realized that he shared the same high school number as both Fantanu and his favorite ever Steeler, Troy Polamalu, when making the pick earlier.

The Fossa, County Kerry native has had some high pressure moments in his career – playing in front of over 80,000 people in Croke Park, a place where the Steelers last played in 1997. Just last month, the Steelers hosted a contingent from the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Croke Park, as well as the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) , for several days at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and also at Acrisure Stadium.

Going forward, the Steelers have indicated their desire to play a game in Ireland at some stage as part of the NFL Global Markets Program. For Clifford, it would mean everything. “It would be a dream come true to see a Steelers game in Croke Park”, he said. “Hopefully that would be sooner, rather than later – there would be massive interest in Ireland to see something like that.”

Hopefully we will see Paudie in Croke Park someday as part of Steelers Nation, swapping the green and yellow of the Kerry jersey for the Black and Gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For now, Steelers history has been made on the Emerald Isle.

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