WHEN a giant falls the earth shakes. The shockwave that rippled around Kerry last Saturday morning when the news that Páidí Ó Sé had died was of seismic proportions.
Páidí bestrode football in the Kingdom like a colossus, both as a player and as manager of the county senior team. He seemed indestructible like the West Kerry landscape where his larger-than-life personality and supreme footballing talent was forged.
It is almost inconceivable that he is gone, but his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of future generations of Kerry football fans, as well as admirers from further afield.
His contribution to Kerry football success, as a player and as a manager, forms a significant proportion of his proud legacy. His natural enthusiasm and ebullient personality transcended all facets of Kerry and Irish life.
Former President of the GAA Sean Kelly, MEP told The Kerryman this week that the legendary Kerry footballer's death has saddened people from west Kerry, across the four provinces of Ireland and to the four corners of the earth.
"I have never seen such a unanimous feeling of sadness right throughout the country and from people with no connection with sport," he said. "The amount of text messages and phone calls I have received from people asking me to pass them on to the Ó Sé family has amazed me. It shows the esteem in which he was held."
Mr Kelly, who was the Kerry GAA county board chairman when Paidi was made manager in 1997, paid tribute to Páidí for his contribution as a player to Kerry's unrivalled success in the 1970s and 1980s and to his role in resurrecting the fortunes of the county side during his tenure as manager.
"I don't think he received enough credit for what he achieved as a manager. 1997 was a real turning point for Kerry football because we had gone 11 years without winning an All-Ireland and 14 years without winning a National League.
"And he did it with a team that many wouldn't have said were favourites or anything. He delivered the goods like he said he would. That was a high point," Mr Kelly said.
Despite his success as a manager, the former GAA President said that Páidí didn't get the plaudits that he deserved.
"I think that sometimes people underestimated his intelligence. He was very intelligent, a very perceptive guy, very practical, and he brought that to bear in his managerial efforts with Kerry. He got the best out of players and probably got more out of players than anyone else," he remarked.
"I will always remember being in dressing-rooms when he gave his pep talks. They were superb. He always knew how to hit the right note and keep a team going. He was able to cajole, threaten if necessary, motivate, and I think that he managed to perform miracles in some respects."
Sean Kelly added that no one could leave Páidí's company in low spirits, such was his enthusiastic nature.
"'Even if you didn't know him' as a fellow said to me this morning 'you always felt that you knew him'. That's the sort of relationship Páidí had with people – he was so natural, so down to earth, in many ways he was larger than life itself. He had a positive effect on everybody and I think people enjoyed him."