Sunday 17 November 2019

He will remain forever young in our memories

MY first contact with Sean Og was when I was a boarder in St Brendan's, Killarney, in the 1950s. I wrote to him at the sports shop he ran in Dublin, ordering some alley crackers. I thought they would be an improvement on the ordinary rubber balls we were accustomed to playing.

I enclosed a postal order for 10 shillings. Back came a polite response.

Sean Og said while he had some in stock, he did not think they were of sufficient quality and, so, would not sell them. He sent back my postal order.

Maybe that was why the sports shop did not last too long.

My next encounter was in 1962. Among his many other activities, Sean Og wrote a sports column in the 'Evening Press'. This was up to then a very fair column – not biased in favour of the Dubs – all sides got a fair crack of the whip.

But come the All-Ireland semi-final of 1962: Dublin v Kerry, suddenly, and very unlike him, Sean Og went overboard. Dublin were going to beat Kerry off the field. The Kingdom had not a hope.

Well, not for the first time (until two years ago, anyway), things did not work out that way and Kerry trounced Dublin.

At the 'Press' the next day, someone placed a green and gold paper cap in his place and the newsroom waited with bated breath for Sean's reaction.

In he came, espied the cap and put it on, saying: "If the cap fits, wear it". True style – or was it grace – under pressure?

He did me the honour once of asking me to launch one of his books at Croke Park.

I invoked Keats's line from 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'. I made the change from:

For ever wilt thou love

And she be fair


For ever will he be young

And she be fair

He would, I predicted remain forever Og, never aosta. Alas, both Sean Og and wife, Ann, are gone but both will remain forever young in our memories.

A final vignette: Sean Og kept asking me to play golf with him in Hermitage. I was right to decline. My golf was not good.

Irish Independent

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