End of an era

Ó Cinnéide: 'We were all kind of emotional... He's the last of the Ó Sés to play with the club'

A Kerry legend became the last Ó Sé brother to retire from playing with An Ghaeltacht this week.

AN GHAELTACHT AND Kerry legend Dara Ó Cinnéide says there was an “emotional” atmosphere in the dressing room following Marc Ó Sé’s final game for the club at the weekend.

Marc O'Se signals a wide Marc Ó Sé [file photo]. ©INPHO ©INPHO

It marked the end of a special era as the last of the famous Ó Sé brothers called time on his playing career with the Kerry side, a legacy that stretches back some 30 years when the eldest brother Fergal first lined out for An Ghaeltacht in 1988.

Darragh and Tomás followed before Marc joined in 1997 when they were in the intermediate grade before going on to play an integral role in their rise to the senior ranks.

After 21 seasons, his final act for An Ghaeltacht ended in defeat to Dingle and there was a weight of emotion in the dressing room as players came over to express their gratitude to a legend of the club who was also joint-manager of the team alongside Conall Ó Cruadhlaoich.

“We were all kind of emotional,” Ó Cinnéide tells The42.

Even before the game the last day I shook his hand which is something I would never do because we’ve all had our last day with the club. It’s a day you do remember.

“When you’re playing, you’re always saying ‘we’ll be retired long enough.’ But when the day comes it’s emotional and Conall was very emotional the last day after the game. Marc held it together but the players were emotional.

“A lot of them would be very grateful to him for taking the job for the last two years because it would have been a bit more of a sacrifice [for him] than it would have been for previous managers.”

Dara O'Se Darragh Ó Sé in action for An Ghaeltach in 2003. INPHO INPHO

Ó Cinnéide has known Ó Sé since he was young, having grown up with brother Darragh as well as lining out alongside the brothers for An Ghaeltacht.

He recalls the youngest of the four Ó Sés as someone who was ‘always keen to learn’ and soak up information that would make him a better footballer to help him compete with his siblings.

The club held a fundraiser last year to honour the decades of service that the Ó Sé clan gave to An Ghaeltacht, and that sense of respect was still evident last weekend.

“It was a realisation as well that he’s the last of the O’Sés to play with the club,” says Ó Cinnéide, who is also part of the An Ghaeltacht management team. “Four of them had given great service.

“There was a lot of weight on it. His first cousin Pádraig Óg Ó Sé [son of Kerry icon Páidí] was captain for the year and he was quite emotional. We’ve a very young team and I think it was a realistion for the young lads that they have to stand on their own two feet now.

Rory Gallagher and Tomas O'Se 22/2/2004 Tomás Ó Sé playing for An Ghaeltacht in the 2004 All-Ireland club semi-final. INPHO INPHO

“The lesser known of them Fergal, the eldest brother, probably contributed as much if not more than any of them. He was our coach for 10 years when we got to the All-Ireland club final in 2004. Darragh, Tomás and Marc got a lot of kudos for what they did for the club.

“They always played the big games as well and were always available within reason. 

“His first cousin Padraig will be playing for another 10 years hopefully but there was that weight coming down on the dressing room the last day of ‘Jesus, this is it. He’s gone.’”

38-year-old Ó Sé opted to publish his retirement announcement As Gaelige on Twitter, a decision which didn’t surprise Ó Cinnéide who says that the Irish language is central to both the club and their local community.

Ó Sé finishes up his his football career with five All-Ireland SFC medals with Kerry and a slew of individual accolades including the 2007 Footballer of the Year award.

As joint-manager of An Ghaletacht, he helped his side to a Kerry intermediate crown as well as provincial success last year.

Dara O'Cinneide and Enda Meehan 17/3/2004 Dara Ó Cinnéide in action during the 2004 All-Ireland final against Caltra. INPHO INPHO

But Ó Cinnéide suspects he would consider trading in some of those Celtic Crosses to get the All-Ireland club title which evaded them in 2004.

“It’s very hard to accept, even to this day. We were beaten by a better team fairly and squarely. It was our one and only shot at glory and small clubs like Caltra and An Ghaeltacht don’t get there that often. I think last year’s intermediate title meant so much to Marc.

Personally, I would swap my All-Ireland medals for the club medal and I think Marc would probably give four of the five for an All-Ireland club medal. It just goes deeper.”

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