There’s a myth Marc Ó Sé would like to dispel but he knows only an All-Ireland title will do it.
More often than not a purveyor of diplomacy, it irritates him that Kerry are dismissed as being past their sell-by date.
Martin Carney said last June’s Munster semi-final defeat to Cork was the day the music died for Kerry but Ó Sé is still dancing.
“I think the big thing is that we know the players are still there. I don’t believe in any of this nonsense that players are over the hill or too old.
“I know myself I’m pushing on. I’ll be 33 the next time I play [championship] with Kerry, but I don’t feel one bit as if the body is waning.
“I feel fresh, I feel good, and as long as that happens you keep going and I’m sure the other older players are the same way.”
Older brother Tomás and Aidan O’Mahony are two other 30-somethings who have signed up for 2013, with Paul Galvin and Eoin Brosnan expected to do the same, even if Seamus Scanlon has opted out.
Age is just a number for the former Footballer of the Year but he feels there might be some currency in the theory they were bitten hard by last year’s All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin.
“Hindsight is a great thing. When you look back on it, maybe players had gone stale. I don’t know but we certainly weren’t playing to the best of our ability. We played Dublin in the final last year and, for 65 minutes, we were lifting altogether and then just things fell apart, so you’d wonder. You can’t just become a bad team overnight.
“I think this year we just weren’t playing. Okay, we did well against Tyrone but that was probably the highlight of our year.
“We started poorly against Donegal but came back into it strongly, and I suppose that is encouraging. But in saying that you lose and at the end of the day that’s no good.”
As far as All-Ireland final defeats go [he’s had four in eight], it’s up there.
“The hard ones are the ones that you feel you possibly should have won. ’02 against Armagh — that’s another one. They’re the ones. I have no problems with ’05 against Tyrone or even ’08 against Tyrone, but the hard ones are the ones where you feel, ‘Jesus, we should have won that one’. And certainly in 2002 and 2011, that was the case.”
It took Kerry two years after ’02 to restore “natural order”, as Munster chairman Sean Walsh would see it.
It also took a new manager in Jack O’Connor, who has now been replaced by his selector Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Ó Sé rejects the idea his former team-mate, 35, is too close to the players.
“I wouldn’t agree with that at all. I remember in 2009 when Eamonn came in as a selector, and Eamonn would be good friends of all of us, but Eamonn can be tough when he has to be, and he’ll do what he needs to do to make sure Kerry get over the line.
“If that means dropping players that he was friendly with, I’ve no doubt that Eamonn will do that.
“From that point of view, I wouldn’t be one bit worried. People say he’s young as well, but there are a lot of managers who’ve come in and are young and do the job.”
Fitzmaurice will be flanked by former Tipperary hurling trainer and Mayo coach Cian O’Neill, a man who has sampled an All-Ireland final in each of the last four years.
As the first selector from outside Kerry also, that might bring with it some further pressure but Ó Sé has already been impressed by the Kildare native.
“Wherever he has gone he has been very successful. He was with Tipperary, he was with Mayo and all you have to do is look where Mayo was before he came in and look at them now.
“They are very strong, they are very athletic now. He has met some of the players individually and we see how professional he is already.”
O’Neill will be on the line alongside Fitzmaurice in January when Kerry return to the McGrath Cup for the first time in two years. Although it’s likely to be an experimental exercise, Ó Sé has already put his hand up to play in the pre-season competition.
“You are trying to fast-forward, hoping for January so I just can’t wait to get back into the swing of things again.”
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