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'Dooher just started pinching me' - Ó Sé recalls Kerry-Tyrone battles

Marc Ó Sé was speaking on the latest episode of The42 GAA Weekly.

Tyrone's Brian Dooher during the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final.
Tyrone's Brian Dooher during the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final.
Image: INPHO

DESPITE WINNING FOUR All-Irelands in the noughties, Kerry’s losses to Tyrone in 2003, ’05 and ’08 gave the Ulster men the upper hand in the rivalry between the counties. 

The Kingdom resumed control with a victory in the 2012 qualifiers, followed by All-Ireland semi-final wins of ’15 and ’19. 

Marc Ó Sé recalled watching his uncle Páidí doing battle against Tyrone in the 1986 final, before becoming a key figure in the Kerry side that went toe-to-toe with the county.

He admitted the three defeats to Tyrone during that period didn’t weigh as heavily as Armagh’s win in ’02 and the Dublin victory of ’11.  

“It’s funny, I don’t have any baggage with the Tyrone rivalry,” Ó Sé said on the latest episode of The42 GAA Weekly. “Obviously we watched my uncle Paidi in ’86 against Tyrone in the final and jeez, Tyrone were absolutely unbelievable in the first-half.

“They even got a penalty and put it over the bar and it looked like Kerry were [under pressure]. That Kerry team, a bit like the Dublin team now, were pushing on in years and getting old. Then I suppose, my first year against them in 2003, it was a year where I was actually sick. I had glandular fever.

“We played Roscommon in the quarter-final, I had a shocking game and was dropped then for the semi-final against Tyrone only to be brought on after something like 25 minutes and marking Brian Dooher.”

It was during his time tracking the current Red Hand joint-manager that Ó Sé says he  ”fairly got used to the dark arts straight away.”

“There was a high ball coming out between Darragh (Ó Sé) and Kevin Hughes, and Dooher just started pinching me as soon as the ball went out. I just met fire with fire and started pinching him back and that was the end of that. He was just a phenomenal player. 

“I definitely look at those games and at the quality they had all over the field. There’s definitely games where I would have loved to turn back the clock and said, ‘I would have preferred to have marked this fella in this game.’”

In the ’08 final, the five-time All-Ireland winner was deployed on Stephen O’Neill, who made a sensational return to the Tyrone panel after their semi-final win over Wexford.

“Dooher in 2008, he was outstanding. I actually would have loved to have been out on him that day, because I was on Stephen O’Neill and if you remember he’d missed the year and Mickey Harte brought him back into the panel and the players wanted him back.

“So I was on him that day. But funnily enough I thought Stephen O’Neill was a bit rusty and I would have been better served on Dooher. I just felt we got the match-ups wrong. 

“But if there was any year where I’d have felt you had a bit of regret, it was the 08 one. I felt we definitely had a chance to win that game and Declan’s shot at the end, had that gone in…But look, these are the way they go.

“I’d find the ’02 against Armagh and ’11 against Dublin a lot harder to take to be quite honest because they were definitely games we should have closed out more. Those games with Tyrone will live long in the memory, good and bad games.”

His final championship start for Kerry arrived against Tyrone in the 2015 semi-final. 

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“My God I was really going well that day. 14 minutes going into the game and that black card comes and that’s the game over for me. Funnily enough that was the last championship game I ever started for Kerry.

“But great memories, unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of those games, in the latter stages in 2012 and 2015 we had good wins against them, but they were a phenomenal team.

“You look all through their defence and attack, they were so strong all over the field. Off the field, great lads as well. You’d see them and have great chats with them. Great days.”

- Originally published at 15:05

To listen to the full episode, go to members.the42.ie.

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