As thousands paid their respects to Páidí Ó Sé’s family in Ventry yesterday, Westmeath star Denis Glennon remembered how the Kerryman inspired them to win their first and only Leinster SFC title in 2004.
“My memory of Páidí is that he gave me my breakthrough with Westmeath. I was very young at the time and he gave myself, Alan Mangan and Gary Connaughton our breakthrough into the county team.
“They were players that hadn’t done too much with Westmeath up to that but Páidí had the knack of getting the best out of players so that we could achieve success.
“One story I remember well was that Páidí was always onto me about tackling. He said to me: ‘Denis, you are one of the best forwards in the country but listen, you need to tackle and tackle and get back and tackle’. I was young at the time and I was going well in training and scoring a lot but Páidí kept at me about tackling.
“I thought I was doing ok so I just kept playing my normal game. Then one evening I remember getting a phone call off Páidí at about 10pm. I thought he was ringing me to say I was doing well but in his typical Kerry accent and said: ‘Denis, I am dropping you from the Westmeath panel’.
“I thought what the hell is going on here? Páidí said: ‘You are playing well but I don’t want you on this panel if you are not going to tackle’. I was taken aback by this. I was still young so I didn’t challenge him like I would now, so I just took it on the cheek. I was very down about the whole thing and I just sat on my bed and I was in bad form and nearly ready to cry, because playing senior football for Westmeath was something I always wanted to do.
“So about 15 minutes later the phone rang again and it was Páidí’s number on the phone so I answered it and Páidí said: ‘Listen, I’ve had a think about it and you are back on the panel, but I want you to tackle more!’
“That was grand so in the next training session I never tackled as much. So, really Páidí had put the frighteners on me and it was his way of getting the best out of players.
“Some managers now try and baby the players, but Páidí didn’t. You either did it his way or you were gone. He gave me my chance and for the rest of that year I had the mentality I wasn’t going to let him down cause I knew what he wanted me to do. That is why Páidí was so successful. He knew what it took to win and he was able to get it out of the players.
“We knew what we were getting when Páidí arrived in Westmeath and in the dressing room because he let us know enough times about his eight All-Ireland medals. We knew this man knew football. Even if he had no All-Ireland medals he would have got our respect just because he was from Kerry, because football is bred into them down there.
“When Páidí spoke you could hear a pin drop in the dressing room. We were fully focused into what he was saying because we wanted what he wanted to achieve.
“I have been in many dressing rooms with different managers but I have never had an experience like when Páidí spoke in the dressing room. He would start shouting and beating the tables and start cursing but when we went out of that dressing room we were fired up. Going out onto the field we would have gone through a wall for that man because we felt we were going to win. He knew what he was doing so we knew what were doing. It didn’t matter who we were playing, if it was Dublin or anyone, we didn’t have an inferior attitude.
“He gave us the belief that we could win, and that we could win every game, especially in the championship and I will be forever grateful to Páidí for that. It is shocking that he is gone now and at such a young age, but he will be remembered in Westmeath forever.”
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