Ó Sé moves quickly to heal rift over Kingdom comments

KERRY boss Páidi Ó Sé moved yesterday to heal the rifts caused by his controversial comments regarding Kingdom fans and his management team.

The All-Ireland winning manger issued a statement from South Africa where the senior squad are on holiday, apologising for any hurt which may have been caused by the Sunday Independent interview which has enraged fans inside and outside the county.

"I wish to clarify a few important items with regard to my interview. I have always had the highest admiration for the Kerry supporters.

"What I meant in the article about the Kerry supporters is that they are very hard to please, always demanding the highest standards because they are a very proud race of people.

"Regarding John O'Keeffe, he was the one man I wanted and pursued for that job from the very beginning. He is the main cog in the Kerry machine and I have no question mark of any kind over Johno's techniques of physical training. As an individual he is a man of the highest integrity.

"From time to time I unfortunately go about describing things the wrong way and I regret and apologise to the people of Kerry if I have hurt, disturbed or upset them in any way," the statement read.

However, former selector Sean Counihan who served with Ó Sé in the late '90s is bemused by the manager's comments regarding his colleagues. Counihan caused controversy three years ago when he wrote about Ó Sé's management style and was later accused by him of breaking confidence. Now he feels that the Ventry man is guilty of the charge.

"The only thing that disappoints me is that Páidi is usually very media shy when dealing the GAA correspondents of the newspapers who struggle to get an interview with him. Some of the article is okay and I am of the opinion that when he was talking about his own instinct, he was probably talking about Tadgh Kennelly, as it was well known that Páidi wanted him for the All-Ireland Final but he was talked out of it.

"As regards absolving himself from blame, I remember when I was involved along with Paul Lucey and Frank O'Leary back in '98, when we were beaten by Cork in July 99, I think we might have been hung out to dry a little bit in relation to that defeat because Páidi made no contact with anyone of us from July until he was reappointed in October himself.

"I found it interesting to read the three favourite people he mentions and I think there was a share of sarcasm in the choice. As for these revelations I suppose considering he singled me out in his book for breaking that particular code he seems now to have forgotten what he wrote himself."

Indeed the apology has been seen as somewhat as an affront to the county football supporters.

"From talking to people today, the apology has not gone far enough," the PRO of the Kerry Supporters Club, Martin Leane said yesterday.

"In it he says sorry if he has hurt people but Páidi should be in no doubt that he has offended people in Kerry," Mr Leane said.

The matter will not rest with the faxed statement, he said, adding that he was hopeful of a much more meaningful conclusion to the row.

"We will be meeting tonight and I am sure that the matter will be discussed. But as far as I am concerned he will have to come over the airwaves and make his apologies. If they can send a fax from South Africa maybe they could have made a phone call as well. Admittedly they might need this holiday but I still think that the issue needs to be, and will be, addressed when they return home. I think the county board will be doing just that."

Another former sideline colleague, Seamus MacGearailt also jumped to the manager's defence His Gaeltacht clubmate said that Ó Sé had been "caught offside" in his use of words.

"It is not an article that I would associate with the Páidi Ó Sé that I know. I know that Páidi has nothing but the utmost respect for the Kerry supporters and I think he was caught offside on this one.

"We all know that Páidi sometimes uses very colourful phrases to make a point. I think the point he was trying to make was that Kerry supporters are very demanding, and rightly so. That is very good because it keeps team and management on their toes. In fact you need supporters like that."

"I think Páidi will deal with this in his own way. It is not an article that I would associate with the Páidi that I know and I worked with him in the Kerry set-up. Páidi is very innovative but he also needs someone to put a blinkers on him from time to time and hold the reins until its time to let go."

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