O Se retirement gives O'Connor yet another vacancy to fill
KERRY could be looking for replacements in no fewer than five separate lines for this year's championship following the announcement yesterday that Darragh O Se had ended his 16-year inter-county career.
He joins goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy in retirement; forwards, Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh are in Australia, while there are doubts over whether Mike McCarthy, who came out of retirement last year, will be available for Kerry's attempt to retain the All-Ireland title.
O Se will be the most difficult of all to replace, having been Kerry's midfield anchor in a career which stretches back to 1994.
Manager Jack O'Connor was hoping that he would continue for another season but will now have to cope without one of the true warriors of the modern game.
"I've been thinking about what I'd do for a while and decided that now is the right time to go. I'll be 35 in March and and felt it was time to step back from the scene," said O Se.
He spoke to the team management a few weeks ago and agreed that he would announce a decision around this time.
"If I was to come back, now would be the time to do it as there's a few weeks' break before the next league game. I thought about it carefully and calling it a day seemed the right thing to do," he said.
Micheal Quirke, David Moran and Anthony Maher are among those who will be queueing up to replace O Se, while switching Kieran Donaghy from full-forward is another option.
Paying tribute to O Se, O'Connor compared him to Jack O'Shea and Mick O'Connell, two other Kerry midfielders who have gone down in football folklore.
"That says it all about the man. Mentally he was very strong, nothing fazed him and I think that's an attribute that younger fellows who now want to step into his boots must copy," said O'Connor.
O Se played a total of 176 league and championship games for Kerry between 1994 and 2009, winning six All-Ireland senior medals.