FORMER Mayo star David Brady has forecasted a barren spell for All-Ireland champions Kerry following the retirement of midfield talisman Darragh O Sé.
Brady was on the receiving end as O Sé figured prominently in Kerry’s All-Ireland final triumphs over Mayo in 1997, 2004 and 2007, and he believes the Kingdom will struggle to replicate those triumphs without the An Ghaeltacht player.
“They say that you only miss them when they’re gone and I think that’s true in Darragh’s case. The older you get, the better you are in people’s eyes and it’ll only be in years to come, when Kerry aren’t winning, that people will realise what a top player Darragh O Sé was.
“In my opinion, Kerry are going to be short success in the next few years. And that’s largely because Darragh’s not going to be there for them.
“I played against him for the first time in 1995 in the All-Ireland U21 final and played against him for the last time in the 2006 final. That’s 11 years and he stayed at the top all time. Throughout all of Kerry’s successes in those year, he was the big driving force. The year that stands out for me was 2007, as I think he carried Kerry to the All-Ireland final that year.
“The semi-final against Dublin stands out as he carried them on his own. He got injured but came back on and to have him on the pitch near the end was inspirational. He was a big driving force.’’
Brady hailed O Sé’s stellar football achievements and has classified him as one of the greatest midfield players in the history of Gaelic Football.
“To win one All-Ireland is unreal, but six would be beyond your wildest dreams. It’s a testament to the team he got six but he himself was a massive influence on all of those. The way football’s gone so physical in recent years and with all the training that is involved, it’s quite an achievement that Darragh lasted so long.
“In the last decade the stamina and fitness have increased greatly and midfield battles takes twice as much toll on the body. But Darragh survived all that, which is incredible.
“He was the complete midfielder in my view. The greats like Brian Mullins and Jacko (O’Shea) had some flaws but Darragh was just an absolute powerhouse. Whenever you’re facing up against a player at midfield you’re thinking where can I expose this guy. You’re looking for where is he weak as some guys are more defensive and some are more offensive.
“The problem I had marking Darragh is that he had bloody everything. It was very hard to pick out some facet of his game as being weak. The fact that he played with so many midfield combos as well was amazing, as he was able to develop several partnerships and was the one constant during that time.
“The big thing with Darragh as well was the amount of ball he won. The likes of (Dara) O Cinnéide, the Gooch (Colm Cooper) and Mike Frank (Russell) would never have scored as much without him in the middle to win the ball for him.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved