Sport obsession cost Kerry star his marriage

Former Kerry goalkeeper Paudie OMahoney with Kathryn Thomas
Former Kerry goalkeeper Paudie OMahoney with Kathryn Thomas

A former Kerry GAA star and the latest Operation Transformation leader has said his obsession with sport cost him his marriage.

“There is no doubt in my mind that it cost me my marriage, because I committed myself to the public and forgot about the family, especially the wife,” said Paudie O’Mahoney, 61, a father of three.

Paudie played football with Kerry from minor level in 1970 until retiring from the senior squad in 1982. The former keeper has five senior All-Ireland medals and the distinction of being the only senior inter-county goalkeeper to have gone through a senior championship without conceding a goal.

However, Paudie, who won an All-Star award in 1975, feels embarrassed when walking in his home town of Killarney because he has let himself go.

“I went downhill fast after my football career ended,” he told RTÉ’s John Murray yesterday. “I kind of neglected life and neglected my family.”

He added that the stress of losing his business earlier this year contribut-ed to his problem eating.

Paudie, the oldest ever Operation Transformation leader, currently weighs 20st 5lb, and is the fourth of 20 hopefuls chosen to appear in the show’s seventh series, due to be screened in January.

Paudie, an engineer, ran a consultancy company but, after 24 years in business, was forced to close it down due to major cash-flow problems.

It was a very stressful time for him because so many employees were depending on the business, including his daughter and sister.

The show’s doctor, Ciara Kelly, said Paudie will inspire older men, particularly rural men who appear isolated.

“I don’t think I have met a more brutally honest man,” she said.

“I am very hopeful that you are going to prove to people all over Ireland that it is never too late to fix the mistakes of the past; that it is never too late to address your health issues and it is never too late to have a new start.”

Paudie said he had lost two good friends and teammates — John Egan and Páidí Ó Sé, in the last two years. “I was getting worried about myself and wondering if I was next.”

However, he was glad Martin O’Neill had been chosen as Ireland football manager. “Back in 1970 I saved a penalty from him in Croke Park in the All-Ireland semi-finals. So I think Martin will bring the Irish team forward and I will bring those aged 55-plus on”

Paudie joins two Cork women, Deirdre O’Donovan from Carrignavar and Jennifer Bonus from Douglas, and a Dublin woman, Siobhán McKillen from Clondalkin, chosen as leaders this week.

The show’s host, Kathryn Thomas, will reveal who the fifth and final leader is today.

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