Thursday 18 January 2018

Saddened Micko hails one of the greatest game has seen

Graham Clifford

From the very moment Mick O'Dwyer first set eyes on Páidí Ó Sé he knew the young Ventry man had the makings of a true great.

"He was playing for the Kerry minors when I first came across him in the early '70s and I recall him bouncing around the pitch full of energy and purpose. Even back then you could see he was something special," said a saddened Micko yesterday.

O'Dwyer drafted Páidí into the Kingdom's under 21 side before the 20-year-old Ventry man climbed the final rung in the ladder when he was promoted to the senior squad in 1975.

"Wearing that Kerry jersey meant so much to Páidí. He'd fight to the last for the green and gold. It was his life-long ambition to represent his county. To go on and win eight All-Ireland medals speaks for itself; I mean you hardly need words to describe what an amazing achievement that was," O'Dwyer told the Sunday Independent from his home in Waterville yesterday.

Describing him as a "marvellous all-rounder", Micko maintains that Páidí was well ahead of his time as a player. "At that time defenders defended and forwards attacked but Páidí turned that on its head. He was a fierce competitor and in all his years playing not many got passed him. What set him apart though was his ability to turn defence into attack, you'd see him tearing up the field with ball in hand with the forward tracking back desperately trying to stop him.

"As a player though he wasn't wild. He was able to control the energy. If he lost the ball when going forward, which was a very rare occurrence, he'd be back in his position again in an instant. He was simply outstanding and, in my opinion, was one of the greatest defenders Gaelic football in this country has ever seen."

In training the youngster from West Kerry also caught the eye of his manager. "He lived life to the full and was an amazing character but when it came to training he really put in the hard work, there's no doubt about that. He was a great motivator too and I wasn't one bit surprised that he went into management and had great success."

Micko says the memory of Páidí captaining Kerry to All-Ireland glory in 1985 is one that will stay with him forever. "When you know how much playing for the county meant to Páidí you couldn't help but be touched by that moment when he lifted Sam."

Páidí would always refer to his former manager as "the boss" and in recent years when the two football-mad Kerrymen found the opportunity to speak about the sport, that brought them together all those years ago, they grabbed it with both hands.

"We used to meet up in the Burlington hotel in Dublin, especially if there was a big Kerry match on. Páidí would order a pot of tea and made sure it kept getting refilled. The tea would be flowing for a number of hours while we discussed football," said Micko, adding "Like me, he couldn't get enough of it. He was a great man, a great footballer and it's so sad that he's passed away so young."

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