Impossible to replace a legend like Tomás

Tomás O Sé during the 2011 All-Ireland final against Dublin. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
Tomás O Sé during the 2011 All-Ireland final against Dublin. Picture: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE

You do not replace a footballing legend - you just hope someone will be inspired by their greatness.

That’s what Dublin’s Alan Brogan, former Kerry manager Jack O’Connor and a host of contemporaries feel about the plan to fill the shoes o f the man from Ard an Bhóthair.

Brogan was adamant Kerry should not look to directly replace Ó Sé. “You just can’t do it. They are of one breed the Ó Sés and, like Darragh before him, are irreplaceable,” he said

The 2011 Footballer of the Year admitted Dublin made special mention of Tomás Ó Sé prior to games.

“You had to have a plan for him. How many times have you seen games where Tomás pops up on the right wing and plants a ball over the bar? For a half-back his scoring record was phenomenal. He played the game with great balance. He would go forward but he never seemed to get caught going backwards.

“He is one of the greatest to play the game and I speak for the Dublin team and management in wishing him all the best in retirement.”

“Part of the fun of football” is how former Kerry manager Jack O’Connor, now the county’s minor manager, described the impending search for Kerry’s next right-half-back.

“Trying to find the next generation is part of the fun of football and management. The problem is players like Tomás just don’t come along too often. He had a great spell and was a unique player and man.”

Dingle’s Tommy Griffin was by Ó Sé’s side for his five All-Ireland wins but it was their early days together that stood out for him.

“Tomás and I played together with Dingle CBS in 1995 when we won an All-Ireland B Colleges final [they beat Banada Abbey of Sligo by two points in Ennis]. I was full-back and he was midfield. He was inspirational then, as he is now.

“He always had that drive, that will to win. His runs out of defence even as a young lad got the whole team going. He was just a born leader.

“There was a lot of Páidí in him, their way of playing was very similar,” added the Dingle publican.

His Kerry team-mate since 2006 and All Star nominee Donnchadh Walsh, recalls being inspired by his passion for the game. “I will miss the man that spoke to the Kerry team before the Cork and Dublin games this year. He would make the hair stand on the back of your neck with the depth of his feelings and his thoughts on the game we were about to play.”

For the Cromane man, still only 29, it’s Ó Sé’s longevity that is equally inspiring. “He obviously has great genes and great breeding as we all know but to stay relatively injury-free for 16 years at intercounty level, apart from the odd niggle, is amazing. ”

“It’s sad for me he is retiring,” Cork’s Daniel Goulding said, citing his consistency as one of his main attributes.

“Tomás would always be viewed as a fella who got his job done,” he said, “but he went about his business quietly and was hugely effective. One thing you’d say about him was just how good he was in terms of raw football skills but he added a lot more to that too.”

Former team-mate and manger Eamonn Fitzmaurice added: “He was a great team-mate and a dream to manage. In team meetings he 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 to them and displayed the characteristics and standards required by a Kerry footballer. He showed them the Kerry way.

“Tomás was the best wing back I have seen play the game.”

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