We can't afford to lose anyone else: Tomas O Se
Tomas O Se issues stark warning to Kerry as defender commits to Kingdom's cause
Bad news has flowed rather than dripped for Kerry football in the months since their All-Ireland success last September, but they got some respite yesterday when Tomas O Se confirmed that he would be returning to training over the next month.
As doubts emerged yesterday about Paul Galvin's future with the county and just two weeks after the departure of his iconic older brother Darragh, Tomas O Se declared his intention to remain a Kerry player for at least another season.
"I am training away, but the lads are going on a training trip sometime around then (next month). It is just hard with the travelling and the family, so I will leave it off another while," he said.
Rumours have circulated around Kerry that Tomas would follow Darragh into retirement, content with his five All-Ireland medals and the perfect parachute jump from the very top. It has even been suggested in some quarters that he would transfer from An Ghaeltacht to Cork city club Nemo Rangers, close to where he now lives.
However, his appearance for An Ghaeltacht last weekend in a relegation play-off appears to have knocked that particular one on the head.
With his uncle Paidi taking over the West Kerry divisional side, for which the An Ghaeltacht players are eligible again after their relegation from senior, it would hardly be the most appropriate time.
Retirement, he says, wasn't something he seriously contemplated. "I said I'd leave Darragh off and have his moment. Ah no, I wasn't at all (contemplating it). While I am enjoying it, I will keep doing it. When I am not enjoying it or getting the same kick out of it I will step back from it."
He agreed that 2010 is now shaping up to be one of the most daunting for Kerry in a long time.
"It is, I suppose, between retirement and suspensions. Tommy Walsh is a severe loss. A lot of fellas were expecting too much of Tommy, but, for a young fella, he was doing very well.
"We were hoping that we would be working with him for the next few years and that he was going to be one of the main men for us. Tadhg Kennelly got better for us as the year went on last year and he would have been brilliant for us again this year, but there is no point talking about them.
"We don't have them and we have to go with what we have. We have to plough on and see what happens," he said.
Whether Mike McCarthy joins him now is something he can't shed any light on. But Tomas feels he has the fitness to do it.
"He became a father recently, but if I can do it with two children, he can do it with one. It's up to Mike. He definitely has the fitness. That's not an issue for him. He will have to make up his own mind.
"We definitely can't afford to be losing more players than we have already, so I hope he does come back. He has time on his hands. He didn't come back until June last year and he is a fella who doesn't lose sharpness or fitness."
Darragh's loss will hit hard because of the dearth of leadership it leaves. "He has been a huge part of Kerry football for the last 15 years. Darragh and (Seamus) Moynihan have been the two best players I have played with.
"I'm not saying it because he is my brother, but he is the best midfielder I have seen playing football. I haven't seen Jacko (Jack O'Shea) or the older fellas, but he has had a huge impact on Kerry with his play, his style of play and his ability to make fellas play better. He is a leader and we don't have too many of those at the moment."
On the question of Galvin, Tomas is able to see his latest suspension in a more positive light.
"The break might do him good. Fellas would say that he has had too many breaks the last couple of years, but he has played a lot of football and he will hopefully come back in better shape. He got sent off last year and it did him no harm."
He is convinced that Galvin is suffering from a reputation that has grown around him in recent years and that if it was two others involved in a similar incident to Eoin Cadogan and himself, they might not have been sent off.
"Fellas are saying he is getting a bit of a rough deal and, to be fair, I think there is a bit of that. It is easier to send him off because it is Paul.
"The game itself was at boiling point at the time and I think the referee was under a fair bit of pressure."
Expressing disappointment on the failure of Galvin's hearing, Kerry chairman Jerome Conway confirmed that the player would not be taking his case to the Central Appeals Committee.
"We'd be satisfied that all the procedures were properly followed. There won't be an appeal," he said.
Galvin now stands suspended from the date of his sending off, Saturday, February 13 until Saturday, April 10, the day before Kerry's last league game at home to Monaghan. In the meantime, speculation is likely to continue over whether this latest episode will prompt last season's Footballer of the Year to consider quitting the game.