New GAA prize is a touching Aengus tribute
Published 19/02/2012 | 05:00
"Believe it or not," Paidi O Se told me over dinner in 2006, "there is one very strong point about me: I don't give a tuppenny f*** about anybody other than my family and my very close friends."
This is clearly the case with the GAA legend and Kerry icon. Paidi has named a memorial trophy at his annual GAA football festival in the Dingle Peninsula next weekend after one such very close friend, and fellow Kerryman.
"It's called Laoch na Deireadh Seachtaine i gcuimhne Aengus Fanning, which means Player of the Weekend in memory of Aengus Fanning," Paidi told me, referring to the late editor of the Sunday Independent, adding that he met Aengus for the first time in Ballyferriter 25 years ago.
"He was a great character, a great man, and we remained very close over the years. An awful lot of people say in Kerry that Aengus was a very good footballer and would have become a great one, a legend, had he continued his footballing career and not gone into journalism."
High praise indeed, coming from a man who is looked on with nigh-religious observance in GAA circles.
Next Sunday at 5pm in Paidi's famous hostelry in Ventry, the Fanning family will present the award to the best player of the weekend; the award in honour of Aengus will be presented annually at the Tayto Longford Arms Comortas Peile Paidi O Se 2012, now in its 23rd year, and which runs February 24-26.
The festival was launched with great fanfare last Tuesday night by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Berkeley Court in Dublin.
Asked what he said to An Taoiseach, the staunch FF supporter Paidi replied: "I wished him the very best in his quest to bring the country back into better shape."
Like Aengus Fanning before him, Paidi is famously not one to pull punches.
In 2003, he gave the headline-making remark about Kerry football supporters being the "roughest type of f***ing animals you could ever deal with." (A back-handed compliment, saying that they were anything but the detached prawn sandwich-eating brigade that Roy Keane once said of Man United supporters. )
And lest we forget, Paidi's 1997 radio ad for a Munster animal-feed company wherein Paidi announced that the animal feed was so good "I nearly ate it myself."
Doubtless the food next weekend in Ventry will be even better.