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Joe Kernan: Páidí Ó Sé lived life to the full

When Frank Sinatra performed his immortal song “My way” I very much doubt if he had Páidí Ó Sé in mind.

Yet the former Kerry player and manager perhaps best encapsulated the sentiments conveyed by the legendary American crooner.

Páidí, whose funeral took place yesterday in Ventry near Dingle, certainly lived life to the full and did everything his way.

Ebullient, jocular, enthusiastic, controversial — Páidí was all of these and more.

As a player, he won eight All-Ireland medals with his beloved Kerry and as a manager he delivered the Sam Maguire Cup twice to the Kingdom before plotting a dream Leinster title triumph for Westmeath in 2004 and then turning his hand to managing Clare.

I had the privilege of playing with and against Páidí. He was in the Kerry side that beat the Armagh team of which I was a member in the All-Ireland championship in 1982 and then he and I shared the same dressing-room when we played for the successful Cavan side in New York two years later.

I played against him on several occasions in the National League and was also in Ulster teams which confronted him in Munster’s colours in the Railway Cup.

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Páidí played the same way in which he lived life — to the full. He took no prisoners, loved winning and garnered considerable pride from the fact that the forwards he was detailed to mark rarely scored in matches.

He called a spade a spade, always wore his heart on his sleeve and became one of the most popular figures ever to grace the GAA scene since the organisation was founded in 1884.

It was never necessary to mention his surname when you referred to him — you only had to mention the word Páidí and people automatically knew about whom you were speaking.

Personalities from rugby, soccer, golf, horse-racing and motorsport were at his wake on Tuesday night and funeral yesterday to pay tribute to a man who had enriched the lives of all with whom he had come into contact if only through his infectious smile and ready wit.

It was entirely appropriate — and very much appreciated — that the BBC included a reference to the passing of Páidí in the Sports Personality of the Year programme on Sunday night.

That he was mentioned on such a high-profile presentation proved a fitting epitaph for someone who, while first and foremost a gael, was nonetheless a sportsman through and through.

He will be sadly missed by his wife Maire, son Padraig Óg, daughters Neasa and Síun and indeed by all the many thousands who had the pleasure of knowing him.

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