AFTER A GLITTERING football career, Tomás Ó Sé will hang up his boots at the end of the year.
The Ventry man confirmed the news today to Dara Ó Cinnéide’s Radio na Gaeltachta programme Saol o Dheas.
The 35-year-old won five All-Irelands with Kerry, eight provincial titles and five All Star awards since making his senior debut against Cork in 1998.
Speaking to former team-mate Ó Cinnéide, Ó Sé insisted he didn’t have one particular stand-out memory but will miss the craic in the dressing-room, though he would have liked to go out on a high this year.
“In a way, I feel that we, the players, let Eamonn Fitzmaurice and the management down on the day,” he says of the semi-final defeat to Dublin in August, “as they had every base covered, and that upsets me given the work that everybody involved had put in.”
He considers his late uncle Páidí as “the best manager I ever saw in a dressing room who was loved and revered in equal measure by the players” and while he admits that he may not have always seen eye to eye with Páidí’s successor, Jack O Connor, he holds him in the highest regard “for his reconstruction of an entire group of players and for never being afraid to make the hard decisions.”
A young Tomás Ó Sé in 1998. Pic: Inpho
Fitzmaurice meanwhile, said Ó Sé “epitomised everything that Kerry football is all about”.
“His commitment, determination and never-say-die attitude were plainly visible every time he took to the pitch,” he said. ”He was a warrior. He also had a game-changing ability and instinctively knew when one of his trademark bursts from defence culminating in a score was required. His fitness levels have always been astounding.
“He trained ferociously hard and really enjoyed the challenge of getting himself ready for the big championship days. These were the days that he enjoyed most. The days that defined him. The days when he always performed.
“From a personal point of view he was a great team mate and a dream to manage. He was a huge presence in our dressing room. In team meetings he always spoke well. He consistently had something new and relevant to contribute. He was an outstanding example to our younger players this season. He has passed the baton on to them and clearly displayed the characteristics and standards required by a Kerry footballer. He showed them the Kerry way.
“Tomás was the best wing back that I have seen play the game,” he added.
Last month, it was confirmed that the Ventry native would join the management set-up at UCC, taking charge of the Fresher’s team for the 2013-14 season.
O Sé has been living in Cork for several years and cited the travel to Kerry as a reason behind his decision to call it a day. County board chairman, Patrick O’Sullivan, admits he’ll be a huge loss.
“The Number 5 jersey, which he made his own for so many years, will be very difficult to fill,” he says. “He is the longest serving inter county player, and not alone that, his honours in the game are a proud record of commitment to Kerry. Growing up in Árd a’ Bhothair, Tomás along with Feargal, Darragh and Marc, was submerged in the football tradition and with their uncle Páidí as their mentor, and later Liam Ó Rócháin, we should not have been surprised that the Ó Sé family would continue to have a strong influence on the Kerry teams and go on to be long serving inter county players who would achieve the highest honours that an inter county playing career can offer.
“His Kerry career started at minor grade where he excelled. It was not long before he established himself in the senior and Under 21 teams. Few people realise that Tomás was on the extended panel in 1997 when Kerry won the All-Ireland Final ending the long wait from 1986.
“I thank Tomás for all the joy and entertainment he gave us down through his years as a player. We will miss those bursts of speed out of defence and needless to say, many of his opposing inter county forwards will be relieved that they don’t have Tomás Ó Sé to worry about any longer.
“On reading through the list of his achievements listed below, we realise the extent of his unquestioned ability, character and talent as player. What is not listed here is the extent of the leadership he gave on the field. There are no medals to honour leadership, but the leadership that Tomás Ó Sé has given to his fellow team members on numerous occasions down through the years will be impossible to replace. We wish him, and his family, the very best in the future.”
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