March 05, 1993
Paidi O'Se as Kerry manager
Tough, Uncompromising, Intense, Rugged but Tempered by Fairness
1964 brought the curtain down on Christy Ring's remarkable career that stretched back to the late thirties. The unusual surroundings of Pairc An Aghasaigh in Dingle provided the final send off for the maestro from Cloyne. Dingle had to wait 28 years for it's next hurling spectacle. In October the Oireachtas final between Waterford and Galway bridged that gap.
The presence of the intercounty hurlers in Dingle prompted the Oireachtas committee to honour the famous footballing sons of the Dingle peninsula. The attendance list at a Dinner in the Hilllgrove Hotel, read like the who's who of West Kerry footballing folklore. Paddy 'Bawn' Brosnan, Bill Casey, Tom Long, Jim Brosnan, Sean and Seamus Murphy and Seamus MacGearailt. The list goes on. Páidi O'Se from the Gaeltacht was also present.
It was a case of the generation game. Paddy Bawn and Bill Casey represented the late thirties and forties. The Murphy brothers from Camp and Jim Brosnan were stars in the fifties while Tom Long and Seamus MacGearailt came of age as footballers in the 1960's. Finally, Páidi O'Se was the finished article in the seventies and eighties.
For Páidi these playing days ended in 1989. Once he retired he made no secret of his desire to make his mark in Kerry management. After four years waiting in the wings, he now has his chance as manager of the county Under 21 side. Even at this stage Páidi is setting his stall early. "Cork will be the main danger and I'll be confident that we can give any other team a good game after that".
According to Páidi success at Under 21 level would be a boost to the Senior set up and he cites his own underage involvement as an example. "It is important and an advantage to have a good Under 21 side because looking back on it the bulk of the 1973 side that won All-Ireland honours went on to win All-Ireland Senior titles while the same can be said about the current Donegal team".
However, this graduation from Under 21 player to the rarefied atmosphere of Senior Championship activity can only be achieved through total commitment to the cause of Kerry football. As a player Páidi O'Se was never found wanting in this regard. First and foremost he placed great pride in the Kerry jersey.
This is the pride O'Se feels has been found wanting in recent years as Kerry's position on the high table has been usurped by both Cork and Clare. "It remains to be seen whether playing for Kerry means the same amount to players who are playing at the moment. It's a very spiritual game as regards Kerry people and until such time as players take it as an unbelievably big honour to play for their county, they won't be successful", are the hard hitting words of the Gaeltacht clubman.
These strong words serve to illustrate Páidi's dedication to the cause. This burning desire for Kerry to succeed in the '90's is a characteristic inherited from his playing days that saw him play in 10 All-Ireland finals, while conceding only four points over 700 minutes of play.
As a player Páidi O'Se first came to prominence as a member of Kerry's Under 21 winning side in 1973. He was also a member of a star studded West Kerry side that included Liam Higgins, John Long, Micheal O'Se. Dan Kavanagh and Seamus MacGearailt in it's ranks - that reached the 1973 county final only to lose to a youthful Austin Stacks side backboned by Mike Sheehy, Ger and John O'Keefe and Ger Power.
Selection for the Senior team soon followed. He held down the right half back position in the replayed National League final victory over Roscommon. This was soon followed by the unexpected All-Ireland success in 1975 when a Kerry side with the average age of 23 beat a strongly fancied Dublin side in the final. Not surprisingly this was the outstanding highlight of the Ventry man's career because when you win your first All-Ireland you have made the grade because when you are playing for Kerry you are not really regarded until you win an All-Ireland medal".
As his playing days prospered so did his business life. An overdue All-Star award came his way in 1981. Three more were to follow in successive years. He won National League souvenirs in '77, '88 and '84 while the only black mark was his dismissal in the '79 All-Ireland final. 1981 also coincided with his decision to leave the Gardai Siochana to take the lease on Kruger Kavanagh's pub in Dun Chaoin. It was Ireland's most westerly pub. In 1985 he opened his own pub in Church Cross, Ventry. The legend of Páidi began to grow.
Charlie Haughey arrived by helicopter to perform the official opening. The mantle piece was custom built to cater for the bulky frame of Sam Maguire. Páidi didn't have long to wait.
After West Kerry's 1984 County Championship, the Lispole club nominated Páidi as captain for 1985. This West Kerry success after an interval of 35 years was tremendous source of pride to O'Se. "Training my county Championship team to county Championship success in Centenary year 1984 was the second biggest highlight of my career".
As captain for 1985, victory would insure that Sam Maguire had a permanent resting place for the year. All-Ireland number seven was duly achieved in September. Páidi's emotional victory speech underneath the Hogan Stand ranks alongside Joe Connolly's in 1980 as one of the greatest ever.
The bon fires raged throughout the Dingle peninsula as West Kerry had it's first All-Ireland winning captain since Annascaul's Paddy Kennedy in 1946. Seven years later people still recall the heady nights of celebration. Sam Maguire was in Páidi's pub, so people came from all over the country. No form of advertising was necessary.
The success story didn't end there. Páidi as player/coach again mounted the victory rostrum as West Kerry retained the county Championship in 1985. The captaincy was transferred to Annascaul's Tommy Doyle. Victory over Tyrone in the 1986 All-Ireland final ensured Sam Maguire had a two year stay in West Kerry. Páidi O'Se had joined a select club. Of that 1985 - '86 team only Páidi. Denis 'Ogie' Moran and Pat Spillane had won eight winners medals on the field of play. It was the end of an era.
As far as Páidi is concerned a number of factors contributed to this unprecedented success. "We enjoyed playing for Kerry, we had a very good squad who all had the intention of giving it our best shot, we worked very hard together and we also had a very good trainer".
His own record illustrates that he is a good trainer in his own right. In 1990 he trained West Kerry to another county Championship success. However, this coaching and motivating ability was consistently ignored by the Kerry County Board despite the fact that there was a growing lobby in Kerry football that saw the Ventry publican as the saviour of Kerry football.
These exploits ensure that Páidi O'Se is judged on a par with other West Kerry football giants such as Paddy 'Bawn' Brosnan, Paddy Kennedy, Tom 'Gega' O'Connor. As a youngster these deeds of West Kerry's finest footballers were Páidi's inspiration. "In West Kerry even up to the present day football is the main sport and because of this in the late '60's and '70's the only past-time was football and any player from the area that played for Kerry was looked up'.
The Kerry Under 21 footballers are now looking to Páidi O'Se for inspiration. Simple philosophies will prevail under the new Under 21 regime. "I always believe that if you train a player, let him know what's involved, what it takes to succeed, it's then up to himself to go away and work on his game. I think there are sufficient players in this mould in Kerry to work on", says O'Se.
The Páidi O'Se story is not yet complete. The second stage of his Kerry involvement is only just beginning. One senses his style of management will be a carbon copy of his playing style. Tough, uncompromising, intense, rugged, but tempered by fairness.
Taken from Hogan Stand Magazine
5th March 1993
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