Tomás Ó Sé: 10 things I learned from the league - and how it all points to another Dublin triumph
Dublin take on Galway in the Allianz National League tomorrow. Tomás Ó Sé talks us through 10 things we learned so far in this campaign.
Dublin take on Galway in the Allianz National League tomorrow. Tomás Ó Sé talks us through 10 things we learned so far in this campaign.
I've been a bit of a bear with a sore head since St Patrick's Day, hard to live with, hard to penetrate.
The real 'Beast from the East' has football tangled up in such an epidemic of second-guessing, Aristotle himself would struggle to figure out a solution.
I can safely say that the whole of West Kerry has been devastated this week over the shockingly untimely death of young Aodhán ó Conchúir.
The Twin Towers were still standing in New York when Stephen Cluxton first took up this gig, so you'd think we'd be getting to know him by now, wouldn't you?
My uncle, Páidí, was inclined to place the National League somewhere between taxes and cold showers in terms of inconvenience.
You know that scene in the movie 'Wall Street' where Gordon Gekko is preaching the beauty of greed to stockholders?
I've never come out of an All-Ireland final with a more surreal feeling than the one I encountered last Sunday.
At the final whistle I imagine I had the same thought as most neutrals in the place: 'Ah Jesus, not again.'
In the movie, 'Creed', Rocky Balboa sings the praises of his late father to the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed.
It was a strange weekend. You left Croke Park on Saturday night thinking that Mayo might just be ready to go all the way and then 24 hours later you find yourself wondering when anyone will be able to lay a glove on Dublin again.
A special era for Gaelic football will have come and gone before we get around to truly appreciating what we have in front of us right now. That...
You could dive deep into the minutiae of the Kerry-Mayo game to try and find out where it could...
I played the Old Head in Kinsale with friends on Tuesday afternoon, and it just struck me how much I now appreciate the freedom of having summers to myself.
I used to say that the championship didn't truly start until the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
I got my first sense of the electric storm coming Armagh football’s way last winter over a chat with Jamie Clarke in The Long Hall bar, Manhattan.
Jackie Lyne once said that Kerry’s place in football was down to “those bastards of mountains behind and that whore of an ocean in front, sure we have to do something!” I got to thinking about that back home last weekend and how much we’ve always taken success for granted in the Kingdom.
I think it was Bob Hope who came up with the line that if you had no charity in your heart, then you'd got the worst kind of heart trouble.
The GAA's global reach continues to extend and the roots being put down in other parts of the world get deeper by the year.
From time to time since I stopped playing with Kerry my opinion has been canvassed by various managers or members of a different inter-county management team about how they might go about improving their own set-up, based on my recent experiences.
I've been struggling to get Paddy Russell's notebook out of my head this week as the Diarmuid Connolly circus grew fresh legs. In a GAA life, it's easy to feel victimised and, nine years ago in Kerry, we pretty much believed that Paul Galvin had been fed to the wolves.
Golfer Johnny Miller once defined serenity as knowing that your worst shot is still going to be pretty good.
I see a lot of my uncle Páidí in the way Davy Fitz has put fireworks into Wexford hurling. He's not to everybody's taste; that much is clear. People see the sparks of madness and tend to draw stupidly simplistic conclusions.
It's an old joke that, if Lee Harvey Oswald had been from Mayo, JFK would probably still be alive today. Until (and unless) they win Sam, they'll remain the butt of black humour. But that line is every bit as relevant to Galway today in that they're just as bereft of a marquee forward, a game-breaker in other words.
I was in Derry last week for the official opening of Dungiven's new bar and something that was said to me has been bouncing around my head since.
So Kerry struck a blow for themselves and the rest of the chasing pack and managed it sooner than I expected last weekend. I knew we were getting closer but I just didn't see that coming. And even though they were just the width of a post from being caught on the line again, it was a big moment for this Kerry team.
I don't want to say it's gone poisonous but being straight about it, there has been an edge between Dublin and Kerry since the Tralee game. And while I can't say I was expecting it so soon, I'm delighted we're getting another cut off them tomorrow.
I had eight missed calls yesterday morning before the sleep was out of my eyes. My first thought was 'who is dead?'
The league is almost done. Things are starting to take shape and we've a better idea of what might happen later in the summer.
Fair play to Derek McGrath. In the GAA sometimes we can be slow to speak plainly on things we're not quite comfortable with. And the issue of professionalism, payments and demands on those involved in the inter-county game certainly fall into that category.
I certainly know what I'd like to happen in Tralee tonight - a good-for-the-soul Kerry win. And I think I have an idea of what will happen: Kerry to deliver their best performance of the year.
I spent last weekend revisiting all the reasons why I've always hated the GAA Congress.
My initial reaction to Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes giving their side of the events which saw them relinquish the reins as Mayo joint-managers was: 'Jesus Christ you don't wash your dirty linen in public'.
During the summer there, I was bouncing around the roads at home one day doing God knows what. I had Radio Kerry on in the car. Weeshie Fogarty's voice was instantly recognisable and he had another fella on with him too.
When my uncle, Páidí, was a garda stationed in Limerick, the Kerry County Board used pay for him to have a steak three times a week.
There's an old American saying, from baseball I think, that players like rules because, without them, they wouldn't have anything to break.
The thing about a one-point game is it tends to push you towards looking at the minutiae of things. You can examine even the smallest incidents and make a case for that being the decisive moment.
For Dublin, it’s very straightforward. There isn’t any aspect of the game or an individual player – with the exception of Brian Fenton and maybe one or two others – that won’t be expected to improve greatly from the drawn final.
Pat McEnaney lets a blast of the whistle. The All-Ireland final of 2000 is over and that's it. Except that's not it at all. It's a draw and the strange sort of silence falls around the place. What was a roar turns into a gentle hum. And you're there on the pitch left with nothing to go on. No road map for what to do next.
Walking out of Croke Park and heading for Montrose yesterday evening, I couldn't quite get my head around the game at all.
It's been one of those weeks that you sometimes get in football. One of those weeks where you start off thinking 'no way, not a hope' but as the thing gets closer that changes to 'you know what, they might just pull this off yet.'
An All-Ireland final can't be won in the couple of weeks beforehand, but I tell you, you can go along way towards losing it.
I can't count the number of people who this week have asked me about what Marc is going to do.
There are times when you leave Croke Park and you have a head full of regrets.
The nicest thing I can say about Dublin is probably that they gave me my best day in football. They also gave me my worst.
Let's be straight about it, Tipperary are the cuckoo in the nest here. They are well off the other three teams left standing at this stage in terms of the quality of player they have.
PáidÍ used to call it close continuous marking. It was a fairly simple concept. If you were given someone to track, your job was to keep him out of the game.
You know when I was playing I used to flat out hate the Tyrone boys. If they were at the All-Stars or some another function, I'd go the other side of the room. I'd duck and I'd dive and I'd dodge them like the plague.
I was out in Westport not too long ago and I organised to meet up with Liam McHale. And over a few pints the craic started up and we swapped a couple of war stories.
I still laugh at the notion. The 'Ah this is set up for Kerry' stuff. Because this is actually the time of year I used to hate. The part where you might have the guts of a month's build-up to a Munster final and maybe another month waiting around for the All-Ireland quarter-final.
I pointed the car for Cork from RTE last weekend after another Sunday Game had been wrapped. I don't mind the driving at that time of night, the roads are empty and you can get stuff clear in your head.
I got a text from 'Ricey' McMenamin during the week, wondering if I was around for a pint in Ventry.
There is an iconic photograph of my uncle Páidí's last day as a county player. It was taken during the 1988 Munster final against Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, and there, on the bench alongside Páidí sit Ogie Moran, Ger Power and 'Bomber' Liston.
I see the bookies have Kerry nailed on to win our fourth Munster title in a row tomorrow.
As I watched Galway thunder into Mayo on Saturday night, my mind drifted back to when I wandered down to Páirc Uí Rinn to watch them play Cork in the league.
Maybe the worst label a GAA man can see stitched next to his name is "watery". It implies something that is bred into you to despise.
The most memorable atmosphere I experienced in all my time playing with Kerry was on a hurling field. Our two games with Dublin in Semple Stadium 15 years ago had an electricity that almost blew the roofs off the stands.
There was a big song and dance in February about Congress approving the introduction of a mark as if it was the answer to all our prayers.
There was a time in the Kerry dressing-room when we reckoned Johnnie Cochran himself couldn't save you from suspension if 'The Sunday Game' decided to go after you.
It's August 1998 and I'm sitting in a Kerry hearse headed for Heuston Station, bull heads on every one of us after losing an All-Ireland semi-final to Kildare.
I suppose I knew I was in trouble as the cavalry on Twitter arrived in defence of my honour and there, sat on the lead horse, was none other than Joe Brolly.
A tough week for Kerry, made that bit tougher by the departure of one of the county's highest profile players.
I drove home from Croke Park with a storm raging inside my head last night because these Dubs have me half depressed. Making hard judgements on old team-mates isn't something that comes easy to me but, for Kerry to not perform again against this team just struck me as inexcusable. And it leaves me asking uncomfortable questions.
So a man goes to the doctor, complaining about memory loss and is asked how long he's had the problem.
I'm thinking I might be ready for the junk yard, that it could be all the dignity I have left.
For a snapshot of the place where concussion has occupied in GAA history it's worth recalling a story from the 1980 All-Ireland football final that my good friend Dr Con Murphy once told me.
If I was to step into a time capsule, whip 20 years off my age and get ready to embrace inter-county life in the most modern context, would I be looking forward to doing it all over again? Honestly, I don't think do.
In my 17 years with Kerry my buddies were the team: I went out with them, I socialised with them, I played golf with them. And now, when it's over, I stay in touch and I text them. But I wouldn't see them as much, obviously.
People have this image of Páidí as a wild animal, a gregarious character burning the candle at both ends all the time. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Jack was the manager of the Under-21 teams I played on, and PO worked with him then. I'd heard of him before that again as an up-and-coming coach in south Kerry who was bound to go far.
Starting off, I got a lot of yellow cards, but I think you wouldn't find someone who'd say I was dirty or started a lot of fights or fouled a lot.
Losing to Tyrone three times in the last decade still tortures me to this day but three consecutive defeats to the Dubs will be even harder for this bunch of Kerry footballers to take.
The things you do in the week of an All-Ireland final. I had to be in Dublin one of the days so it involved setting an early alarm call and hitting the road out of Cork by four that morning.
Another Kerry-Dublin All-Ireland final on the horizon doesn't make it any easier for an old soldier to close his ears to the sound of battle.
Watching some of the actions of the Dublin footballers last Sunday brought me back to a sunny Killarney afternoon five years ago when Limerick came to town for a Munster final.
I'm in the market for any college prospectus that offers catch-up courses in law and forensic investigation.
The sell-out signs have been hoisted up around Croke Park well in advance of this one. We shouldn't be surprised by that. Dublin and Mayo is a licence to thrill.
I have to express my disappointment with the comments of GAA president Aogán ó Fearghail in relation to the "tiresome" nature of 'The Sunday Game' coverage earlier this week. I feel he is wrong in his assessment.
In Kerry we've long been acknowledged as kings of the art of 'plámásing.'
A story about Tommy Doyle came into my mind this week as the furore over Tiernan McCann and Tyrone gathered breakneck pace.
There's an image in my head of a picture in circulation earlier this summer that captures all those hurls stacked up outside the door of a church in Kilkenny where the students of St Kieran's College were having a Mass to celebrate the end of the school year.
In the build-up to a Championship match with Dublin, especially in the latter part of my career with Kerry, our preparation time was inevitably consumed by one subject more than any other.
I can't imagine Eamonn Fitzmaurice would have expended much more time around Killarney than he had to on the Sunday evening of the drawn Munster final.
Back in Dingle at a friend's wedding last week I was left picking little shards of shrapnel from my skin after stepping on a landmine that I hadn't seen coming.
You don't appreciate the power of the flashing blue lights of the motorbike outriders flattening a path for a team bus into a stadium until you've hit some of the grid-locked arteries into Killarney on Munster final day.
Rumour is they'll have 'Wanted' posters carrying my picture stuck up in the Cork dressing room on Sunday.
I crossed the border into a foreign country on Sunday and it proved an education. I took the weekend in Kilkenny to celebrate my birthday and so pitched up in Nowlan Park for a game that, in time, took on the feel of Christians being tossed to the lions.
No need for an alarm call on Wednesday morning last. A beeping phone quickly told me I'd struck a few chords in the county where I now live and work.
Some morning early next week I'm expecting my phone to chime with a routine text message for the time of year it is.
There was a moment of enlightenment for me as I drove back down home to Cork late on Sunday night after an evening in the RTE studios.
Walking out of Pairc Ui Chaoimh one year, trying to clear the place as quickly as possible after a Munster Championship defeat, I happened across a young Cork fan who couldn't have been more than 10 years old.
I've been thinking lately about that line from a Meath supporter when asked if he had recorded the 2001 All-Ireland final. "I did" he said "but I'm going to tape the Angelus over it!"
One question has to be addressed first in assessing Paul Galvin's return to the Kerry squad last night. Is he one of the best 25 footballers in the county right now?
The first time I met Jim McGuinness I got the immediate sense of a man with a special presence.
However much you might not like them, you always cast a wary eye over an end-of-year selection to see if you were in. Every player does it.
A thought struck me as I sat watching the Kerry players celebrate together on the field in Croke Park on Sunday evening, something Darragh has always said.
Looking at this week through selfish eyes, I never thought retirement was taking me out of an All-Ireland final dressing-room.
I thought this punditry lark would be easy, but now I'm coming to the conclusion that it's harder than trying to explain Pythagoras through Latin.
There's been a picture in my head all week of Richard Harris going to war with that American trying to buy the field that, over the years, has turned his hands to stone.
Do you know the more tactical football becomes, the more fascinated I become by Mayo.
Only one place to start I suppose and that’s with this week’s hullabaloo over my good friend, ‘The Gooch’. A two-trick pony? Ah stop.
Padraic Joyce offered me a bed for the Races in Ballybrit and I was thinking it mightn't be the only trap Galway had in mind for Kerry this week.
A few strange bullets were flying in the direction of 'The Sunday Game' studio after last weekend's 'Bitegate' coverage, so it might be no harm to put one misconception to rest.
I'd be curious to know what's going on in the Dubs' heads this week.
Kingdom haven’t gone away and neither have Cork – despite what their ‘fans’ think
It won't be a common Kerry view, but there's a part of me that will curse the wrecking-ball about to cut loose on Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Sure it's turned into a bit of a kip across the years, but you can be fond of a place for more than how it looks.
I did a bit of a Greta Garbo thing in Ennis, slipping on to the terrace with a cap pulled low over my eyes, hoping to stay invisible. It was a very strange feeling not wanting to meet Kerry fans and get tangled up in the same, unanswerable questions.
I could have sworn the sun was making faces at me about retirement this week and it got me thinking about something former Ireland soccer boss, Mick McCarthy, once said.
It has been creeping up quietly on me since I retired, but I think I've developed a soft spot for Mayo. Not sure why. In my career, I never seemed to have an easy day against them and one of the most conflicted memories I have is of our victory over them in the '06 All-Ireland final.
The trouble with Dublin this weekend is their arrival into the Championship is being billed as something akin to letting King Kong out of a cage.
Driving down from Dublin last Sunday night, I felt a bit of guilt sitting on my chest. A quiet road gives you time to think and the texts were coming through in droves. Wise boys on about my description of Donegal as a "skeleton" of what they were. "Stick to the teaching O Se!"
Páidí sold me the lie that this punditry lark was glamorous, so his grin was in my head as I dragged my sorry carcass off to work on Monday morning.
To understand why losing to Tyrone always stuck in my throat so much, let me tell you about '08. Remember their goal in the All-Ireland final? A slip by Padraig Reidy and Tommy McGuigan stabbing the ball home from maybe a yard?