Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Legend Paidi O'Se made huge impression on and off pitch

Páidí ó Sé won eight All-Ireland titles as a player

Former All-Ireland winning Armagh boss and Belfast Telegraph columnist Joe Kernan has paid his own personal tribute to Kerry legend Páidí ó Sé, whose sudden death on Saturday, aged just 57, has shocked the Gaelic Games family.

In a glittering playing career, Páidí won eight All-Ireland football titles, 11 Munster crowns, four National League titles, four Railway Cups and five All Stars.

As a manager he won two All-Ireland titles with Kerry, six Munster titles and a National League. He also guided Westmeath to the Leinster title in 2004.

Páidí had a disappointing day in Croke Park in 2002 when Kerry lost the All-Ireland final to Armagh, who won the title for the first time. As with any other time during his reign when Kerry lost, he was extremely gracious.

“He came straight into the Armagh dressing room and said a lovely few words. We appreciated it coming from him, but then he was like that,” said victorious manager Kernan.

When Armagh travelled to play Kerry in Tralee in the league the following season, Páidí went into the Armagh dressing room before the game.

“With a big smile on his face, he welcomed Armagh and the Sam Maguire Cup to Kerry. Niceties over, he sent the Kerry team out to get stuck into us,” said Kernan.

He played with Páidí in New York in the days when players jetted to the US quite regularly on weekend trips. Kernan and ó Sé won a New York title, playing with ‘Cavan', and enjoyed good times on and off the pitch.

“Can you imagine the fun we had? Páidí was one of the most entertaining men you could possibly meet. He'd have you in stitches. The one thing you'd have to say about Páidí is that he did just about everything in life. Not everyone gets to say that but he genuinely could.

“The reaction to his death up here in Ulster has been incredible. Every GAA man, woman and child in any part of the country felt they knew Páidí. He was just one of those great characters that people loved. It's hard to believe he's gone,” said Kernan.

Páidí was a master at using the media. Many journalists would get the call around the same time every year, summoning them to the launch of his annual club football tournament.

He would share around some nuggets of information to incentivise the media to give the tournament publicity.

Having been successful as a manager — he was the highest managerial achiever from that great Kerry team — with his native county and Westmeath, it's easy to forget just how good a footballer he really was.

In his prime, he was virtually unbeatable, making the difficult art of defending look incredibly simple.

The level of respect in which he was held has been vividly illustrated by the amount of goodwill that has emerged since his death.

It has come from every county, and beyond, for the simple reason everyone who ever met him will have one common memory: they were always in better form for the encounter.

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