Prince of defenders brings era to an end
Marc Ó Sé's expected retirement was confirmed yesterday, bringing a 24-year playing association with the Kerry senior team to an end for one of Gaelic football's most successful families, WRITES Colm Keys.
Five times an All-Ireland winner and three times an All-Star, Ó Sé admitted he had lost the speed that had helped to forge his reputation as arguably the finest corner-back of his generation, and that was a factor in his decision.
His first championship with Kerry was in 2002, and he was crowned Footballer of the Year in 2007.
Tributes poured in yesterday after he confirmed his retirement to former county and club colleague Dara Ó Cinneide on Radio na Gaeltachta, with former manager Jack O'Connor admitting there was "merit" in the suggestion that he was too good a footballer to be a corner-back.
Ó Sé admitted the enjoyment for him receded this year. "It's the right decision, I just don't have the speed. I was getting older, 36, and maybe the legs weren't as good," he said.
"I suppose I didn't have that same influence this year, that's what I felt. I might have had an influence in the dressing-room, but every player wants to have an influence on the pitch," he said in his RnaG interview.
Starting with Marc's uncle Páidí in 1974, there have been only four years out of the last 43 when a member of the Ó Sé family has not been directly involved with the Kerry squad.
Ó Sé admitted the 2002 and 2011 All-Ireland final defeats will stay with him, saying: "They're always on my mind, as if they happened yesterday."
However, the expected raft of Kerry retirements may not materialise as expected, with speculation that Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy may stay on, while Aidan O'Mahony's club form with Rathmore suggests he could possibly go another season.
Former Kerry great Eoin 'Bomber' Liston has described Marc as the most skilful of the trio of brothers.