Sunday 19 January 2020

Tomás, Darragh or Marc? Ranking the three Ó Sé brothers is Gaelic football's toughest task

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

It is the Gaelic football equivalent of Sophie's Choice.

Just as Meryl Streep's character had to choose between her two children in the Holocaust drama, asking Gaelic football fans to rank the Ó Sé brothers is an impossible request.

Could you imagine how long the film would have been if Streep had three children instead of two?

Marc O Se announced his retirement from inter-county football on Wednesday, bringing to an end one of the most illustrious runs in the history of the GAA: The Ó Sé dynasty.

In a sport that has an All Star team and a Player of The Year award, it would be remiss not to attempt to rank three of the greatest players ever - who just so happen to be brothers.

The only problem is that short of coming up with a plan to take down Jim Gavin's Dublin, picking a standout from the Ó Sé family is probably Gaelic football's toughest assignment.

You can make a compelling argument that any of Tomas, Darragh or Marc was the best of the three - likewise, you will have plenty of evidence of why an alternate sibling was superior in any debate, such was the levels of their achievement.

You end up hair-splitting to a ridiculous degree - they are three all-time greats after all - and whoever you think finishes third in a ranking of the three is still on the team of the 21st century as of today (an altogether better fate than the loser of Meryl Streep's dilemma).

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Darragh has the most All-Ireland medals - 6 vs 5 for both Tomas and Marc.

Tomas has the most All Stars - 5 vs 4 for Darragh and 3 for Marc.

Tomas and Marc have both won Player of the Year - remarkably, Darragh never did.

Tomas scored the most, despite playing wing back - 3-35 vs 1-31 for Darragh and 0-13 for Marc (which seems low, which is a testament to how skillful he was in attack).

The measurables seem to favour Tomas overall, although some would argue that the number of Celtic Crosses is the ultimate arbiter.

Digging deeper into the roles they played doesn't make picking a winner any easier.

Darragh was the totemic figure in the middle of the field, who got the better of most aerial threats in the game.

Tomas played a crucial link role between defence and attack  - equally adept at being a sticky marker, a skilled distributor or a clinical point-taker.

Marc was like Tomas, only his defensive role was tougher and deeper down the field, which made his attacking forays even more admirable.

You can easily argue that the trio were the best at their position over the course of their careers, which crystallised perfectly in 2007, when they all won All Stars after Kerry completed the two in-a-row.

Just merely going off the tangibles doesn't separate the brothers in any meaningful way, and maybe that is the point.

Choosing one brother over the other is very subjective given how influential they all were in different facets of the game. There is no right or unanimous answer.

It is a judgement call and maybe we are better off just acknowledging that they all belong in any conversation about the best ever Gaelic footballers.

But that is no fun.

Tomas, Darragh and then Marc?

Put them in any order you like.

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