'Different animal' Tomás Ó Sé still going strong
By John Harrington
It’s not just your average coach potato or footballer on the ditch who marvels at the football Tomás Ó Sé is playing at the ripe old age of 39. His Nemo Rangers team-mates are just as gobsmacked.
Nemo full-forward Paddy Gumley, 35, has been around the block himself a fair bit at this stage, but he’s never seen anything quite like Ó Sé.
The former Kerry star isn’t just still surviving at the highest level of the game, he’s positively thriving.
Ó Sé was man of the match in the All-Ireland semi-final against Slaughtneil, a game that went to extra-time, but his energy never flagged, his will never wavered.
When you suggest to Gumley that there’s something freakish about Ó Sé’s natural athleticism he can only agree with you.
“It must be the West Kerry air or something, the ions or something!”, said Gumley.
“I think so. To play the football that he's played at the level he's played and still be doing it. There's something more there.
“I don't think I've ever heard of him being injured, apart from the odd complaint about his back. He's something else. I don't think we'll witness too many of his breed ever again.
“You're talking about a different animal there. His durability is unreal. You'd wonder how he keeps going. His semi-final performance, when the chips were down he got a point, drove forward and won frees.
“His timing in the game was crucial. At the perfect time he done what he done and got us back into the game and then we kicked on.”
It’s not just his team-mates who have limitless respect for what Ó Sé is doing, his opponents hold him in similarly high regard.
Corfin’s Gary Sice is likely to be in direction competition with Ó Sé on Saturday and will be hoping things go a bit better this time than they did the first time he crossed paths with the Kerry-man.
“I had the misfortune as a young lad of coming across him down in Tralee, nothing pleasurable about it, I can tell you,” said Sice with a rueful chuckle.
“It's a while back now. 2008 or 2009 (It was 2010). We had lost to St. Gall’s on a Saturday night and the following Sunday we were playing Kerry in Tralee, I think it was.
“A long week. Yeah, a long week. It was an experience in itself. Some footballer.
“You're talking about one of the best number fives that has played - a fantastic footballer. His influence, just being there alone, whether he kicks a ball or not.
“He'll be hugely influential, I'm sure, on the day. We're aware of him and hopefully, I'll get close to him every now and then if I can.”
Sice, 33, recently retired from inter-county football with Galway in the hope doing so could extend his own club career.
When he looks at the form that Ó Sé and his Corofin team-mate, Kieran Fitzgerald, 37, are currently in, he reckons it goes to show that if you combine experience with the right attitude you’re onto a winner.
“It's down to the individual,” he said. “Someone like Tomás Ó Sé, even Fitzy [Kieran Fitzgerald/> with us. Their self-discipline is phenomenal.
“To mind themselves and motivate themselves and keep playing. There's a serious desire there and it's extremely admirable, I think, in both their cases.
“They're a serious flag for anybody who thinks that 33, 34, 35 is the end of a career - it's far from it, I think.
“They're more dangerous on the field as far as I'm concerned because their experience is phenomenal and they know what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
“If they can still get around and do it, that makes them extremely influential in any game, especially when you get to Croke Park and big spaces. That's going to make them vital to any team.”
Ó Sé lost an All-Ireland Club SFC Final with his home club An Ghaeltacht back in 2004, so 14 years on you can be sure he’s ferociously motivated to win the one serious medal that has so far eluded him throughout an honour-laden career.
He’s the sort of driven competitor you’d much rather have in your corner than the opposition’s, and Gumley admits he and his team-mates draw a lot of reassurance from going into battle alongside the Kerry-man.
“Oh yeah. Even to just know he's there. The lads always know he's there and he's a serious asset.
“You know he has your back, and he will have your back. He backs it up, like.
"It's more reassurance, and then when he does what he does, the timing of it is crucial for us.”