PAIDI O Se’s death has not only stunned the GAA world but also the wider sporting fraternity and indeed the community as a whole.
He was one of the most recognisable faces in the country, a status earned through his prowess as a legendary Kerry defender and later as an All-Ireland winning manager with his native county before moving on to coach Westmeath and Clare.
His playing days coincided with the most successful period in Kerry history and he played no small role in the remarkable empire-building which was presided over by Mick O’Dwyer.
He would always say that managing could never come close to playing in terms of personal fulfilment but it was still a role that he greatly enjoyed. Leading Kerry to a first All-Ireland win for eleven years in 1997 and adding another title to the roll of honour in 2000 were hugely satisfying for Paidi buts steering Westmeath to their first ever Leinster senior title in 2004 was possibly his finest achievement.
His move to Westmeath so soon after finishing with Kerry in 2003 came as a surprise but he embraced the challenge with trademark enthusiasm while also bringing huge managerial nous. It was an impressive combination which helped provide an energy that took Westmeath through new frontiers. The summer of 2004 is still talked of fondly in Westmeath and ensured that Paidi’s name will be forever revered in the lake county.
It’s revered even more in his native county where his force of personality made him a cult figure.
*Read Martin Breheny’s full appreciation in Monday’s Irish Independent.