"I'm not thinking about anything else apart from this game" - Marc Ó Sé eyes up Dubs
Published 17/09/2015 | 02:30
Referees don't often hear they're right these days. So Maurice Deegan is in for some refreshing news.
He might have got his wires crossed with later decisions involving Ronan McNabb and Shane Enright but his call to black card Marc ó Sé in Kerry's All-Ireland semi-final win over Tyrone was spot on.
No equivocation, certainly not from the man himself who admits he was "disgusted" with himself in the aftermath. "I was disappointed," reflected the 35-year-old defender. "I felt I deserved it. At the time I didn't feel it was justified. But I definitely left the hand in. In hindsight, the referee was right.
"To be fair, I did go to break the ball away from him. But I should have pulled my hand back straight away. Instead I left it there.
"He may have gone to ground easy but at the same time I let him go to ground easy because I left my hand in."
Kerry were still able to steer the ship to safety without their most experienced defensive hand for the last 55 minutes.
"You have no control then on the sideline, you are disgusted with yourself and you've left the boys down, especially so early on but it left him edgy.
"I was very disappointed because I was delighted the way the game was going for me personally and the team, I thought we were going well."
He was glad to put the Kerry's Croke Park hex with Tyrone to bed for once and for all but thought too much was made of it in the build-up.
"Most of the Kerry players now have never lost to Tyrone. And James O'Donoghue even said that. So that Kerry-Tyrone thing is gone. From my point of view, it was great to put it to bed. It was all fuelled by the media, and had nothing to do with the game."
ó Sé's decision to return for a 14th championship season has helped him to nudge ever closer to older brother Tomás's record of 88 championship appearances.
He has already left Darragh in his slipstream this season, matching his 81 appearances in the drawn Munster final with Cork and a win on Sunday would bring him level with Darragh's All-Ireland senior medal haul of six.
The appearances statistics are not something that excite him greatly because he knows, in time, they too will be bypassed.
"It doesn't make any difference," he said. "There'll be players that will come on and break all those records in a few years.
"Tomás is there now, give that three or four years and some other fella will come and take over. It's no different to the likes of Ryan Giggs in the soccer. He's been there for years. Inevitably it will be the teams that are successful because they're the teams that will go longer in the championship.
"It's just great getting games. The training in February or March, it's not pretty, especially down in Kerry where you don't have facilities other counties have.
"Hopefully now in the future we will because we're building our Centre of Excellence but at the moment you don't. You're training in muck those months and it can be really tough. But I suppose that's what you train for, you train for being in Croke Park in September and that's where we are now."
ó Sé made a quick decision after last year's All-Ireland final to come back again in 2015 based on how he was feeling. Even with so much mileage on the clock, he has started more championship games, 15 from 16, than any other Kerry player in Eamonn Fitzmaurice's three-year reign which is a fitting tribute to his enduring consistency and fitness.
His only time to miss out from the start was last year's semi-final replay against Mayo when he was surprisingly omitted. "I felt good," he said of his decision to return. "I had an injury at the time but once it cleared up, I felt I was going to go again.
"Physically, I feel great so I just keep going as long as I feel I can. I felt good all year, so hopefully we'll get one more game and we'll be back again being asked, 'What's the story with next year' but you know, I'm just looking at the next game now. I'm not even thinking about anything else. I'm not thinking about retiring. I'm not thinking about staying on. I'm just thinking about this game."
In his thoughts too is Bernard Brogan, who has come on his radar so much in the last five years.
"I was looking before the drawn match, he'd 5-16 from play which is huge scoring. He's flying it," noted ó Sé.
"Why is it? Because he's a very good player. I suppose certain fellas, they just get a run of games behind them and they start performing. Their confidence grows.
"Bernard is flying it at the moment, there's no doubt about that. The first shot he had the last day, he got the ball and just popped it over the bar into the Hill 16 end. It was a great score.
"But I'm not here to talk them up, and talk us down. We certainly have players too who can do that too."