Wednesday 23 October 2019

Tomás was a real warrior in Kerry's defensive trenches

The book, The White Heat
The book, The White Heat

Alan Aherne - Book review

No other family I can think of from the G.A.A. world has been the subject of so many books as the O Sé clan from Ard an Bhóthair in west Kerry.

I have read two publications on the late Páidí, a real character who passed away all too soon after a distinguished career as a player and manager.

Darragh is the second eldest son of Páidí's late brother, Micheál. One of the best midfielders the county ever produced, he penned an autobiography some years ago, and now it's the turn of his brother, Tomás, who won five All-Irelands in an honours-laden Senior career spanning from 1997 to 2013.

Indeed, supporters of Kerry owe a debt of gratitude to the O Sé men for all they achieved while sporting the green and gold. Marc, the youngest, is nearing the end of his days now also, while many contend that the least-known of the four brothers, Fergal, had the potential to be the best but his career was cut short through injury.

Tomás has written his autobiography, 'The White Heat', in collaboration with Michael Moynihan of the 'Irish Examiner'.

Since his retirement he has forged a media career with a regular slot as a 'Sunday Game' analyst as well as a column with the 'Irish Independent' during the championship.

It's a complete turnaround, because O Sé acknowledges that he never liked being approached by journalists in the lead-up to games during his days with Kerry.

There was a spell towards the end of his career, particularly in 2012, when this gifted wing-back was rarely out of trouble on the field as the red mist descended more than once.

O Sé is candid when he reveals that his personal life was in turmoil at the time. His marriage had broken up, while some dabbling in the property world during the boom times had also backfired along with so many others.

Bearing that in mind, he makes the point that supporters never consider the trials and tribulations players may be going through off the field.

He's correct of course, and therein lies a salutary reminder for all lovers of sport; when was the last time you started to give out about a player but bit your tongue and wondered if perhaps all wasn't well in his or her personal life? It's something all of us should consider a lot more, that's for sure.

It's interesting to read that O Sé regarded every single training session with Kerry as a test. He reasoned that he was coming up against players of the calibre of the Gooch, Declan O'Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy in drills and backs and forwards games, so what could possibly prepare him any better for big games? Perhaps that's one of the key differences between the successful teams and the also-rans who are missing that type of incentive and motivation.

O Sé also notes the complete lack of egos within the Kerry dressing-room during his playing years. He lined out with some formidable characters, but none of them felt they were better than the rest. Could the same be said about some of the under-achieving teams? I doubt it very much.

Of course, the O Sé's reputation for roguery is legendary, and this book is full of funny tales. Even the ones which first saw the light of day in the books on Páidí and Darragh still prompt a chuckle.

Messers and proud of it off the field to a man, but serious competitors inside the white lines. Families leaving such a lasting impression on a county are possibly part of a dying breed.

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