Ó Sé hoping to keep Gaeltacht show on the road
It only takes a spark to start a fire and An Ghaeltacht player Pádraig Ó Sé reckons it came in when the club won Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta at the start of 2017.
It was the first time in 20 years they had won that competition but it gave them a taste of winning and they have hardly taken a backwards step since.
There has been Kerry and Munster IFC glory as well as a sweet West Kerry final success over neighbours and rivals Dingle just before Christmas.
They also annexed the 2017 Comórtas Peile Páidi Ó Sé, which was stared by Pádraig's late father Páidí and takes place again this year from February 16-18.
Tomorrow they will look to keep their winning run going when they take on Tyrone's Moy, who are powered by Colm and Seán Cavanagh, in the All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final in Portlaoise's O'Moore Park.
"I'm enjoying it, particularly this season," Ó Sé reflects. "We had a great start to the year last year when we won Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta and we hadn't that won it about 20 years and that gave us a good lift to drive on. We then went onto win the Kerry intermediate title and kept it going."
It's been quite the turnaround for the club. The glory days of their senior club final appearance on St Patrick's Day in 2004 seemed like a long time ago when they were flirting with relegation to Division 4 in Kerry.
"(There's) huge excitement this year. I've definitely seen an increase in the number of people who have gotten behind us; people who you mightn't see at a game at all are starting to come.
"Yeah, it's huge and football is huge for the people in the area. The last couple of years things haven't gone well for An Ghaeltacht. We nearly went down to Division 4 in the county league but we were lucky in that we had a crop of young players that came up in the last two years and we managed to keep them all together. And we'll be senior (in the county championship) this year so we're looking forward to that."
Perhaps that fall-off was inevitable given the calibre of players they have lost over the last couple of years.
"I wouldn't say we had a huge difficulty with emigration. The main thing was the team we had from the early 1990s to 2005 was probably the strongest group of players the club has ever had. When you're trying to replace the calibre of those players, it's hard."
Another All-Ireland final is just one step away and it has brought memories of 2004 flooding back to that part of West Kerry.
"We were beaten by the better team," he says of the clash with Caltra. "The Meehans were excellent. It was one of the biggest clashes on All-Ireland club final day. Micheál Ó Sé told us that Croke Park were expecting 20,000 that day but I think almost 40,000 showed up. A lot of them were neutrals to see the Ó Sé's and the Meehans going at it.
"Look, it's something we don't like to remember but we got there as well. It would be nice to get there one more time at intermediate grade."
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