Kerry Footballers

Darragh O'Se - The End of an Era

February 17th, 2010
by Weeshie Fogarty

I have been watching Kerry footballers in action since my first All Ireland final in 1955 and in that time Kerry have produced some of the greatest mid fielders the game has ever seen. Many men have worn the number 8 and 9 jerseys since that memorable year when Kerry won their 18th All Ireland title and their 39th Munster title among them the following legends:
John Dowling, Denny o Shea, Jer D o Connor, Jimmy Lucy, Mick Fleming (Currow), Din Joe Crowley, Johnno o Keeffe, Pat McCarthy, Paudie Lynch, Sean Walsh, Vincent o Connor, Ambrose o Donovan, Noel o Mahoney, Donal Daly, William Kirby, Michael Quirke, Seamus Scanlon and Connor Kearney. There were others of course who were chosen in the middle of the field for just a few games when necessity arose however not being "Natural" midfielders they soon returned to their more adaptable positions on the team.

In my personal opinion it is impossible to determine who was the greatest of all Kerry mid fielders. Nevertheless I find it easy enough to state that the three greatest I have seen since 1955, and I have seen them all, were without argument Mick o Connell, Jack o Shea and now as he retires from the game he has graced so magnificently Darragh o Se, who joins these two Kerry midfield giants as one of the finest I have ever seen.
While it is a very dangerous statement to make in relation to Kerry football, I firmly believe we will never see his likes again in a Kerry jersey. O Se has set a record that will never be equaled. 81 championship appearances, all in the same centre field position and 77 as a starter. Now 34 years of age Darragh has made more championship appearance than any other player in the history of the game. He began away back in 1994 against Limerick in Killarney scoring one point. Noel o Mahoney was his partner and Kerry won 2-19 to 0-8. He would go on and literally dominate the most onerous of positions in any field sport, and not alone that but you would have to really think very deeply before you could say that "Dara had a poor game to-day". Consistently good and very often great.  That was his hallmark.

So what made Darragh o Se such a magnificent mid-fielder? Well first of all he had the breeding and as the old adage says "an ounce of breeding is worth a ton of feeding". His fielding of the ball high in the air was immaculate and a joy to behold. To see him rising high over friend and foe in Croke Park and other venues brought joy to the heart. He was big, strong, always in superb physical condition and looked after his body as would a professional sportsman. He had tremendous vision and as his career unfolded his foot kicking and passing became near perfect. And also and most importantly Dara had the temperament for the big occasion. Without this, performing to ones greatest ability on the big stage on the biggest day of all would be impossible.

So what was his greatest performance ever? For once I am stumped. Watching him playing with his club since I first saw him against my own Killarney Legion under 14s many moons a go I have seen too many memorable displays from the Gaeltaght star to single out one apart from all others. I fear he is the end of a dying breed. The majestic high fielder. The game has changed beyond all recognition. Now it’s a case of swarming, fouling, breaking the ball from the dominant fielders and stop the opposition from playing constructive football. In many ways Dara is lucky to be getting out as the game deteriorates further. It is worth pointing out that the ploy of breaking the ball from the high fielding midfielder was first seen in Croke Park in the early sixties when Down introduced the tactic to prevent the majestic o Connell from dominating the area. The great Down centre fordward James Mccartan reminded me of this at a function in the Killarney Great Southern some years on a night when tributes were paid to Mick o Connell. 

Darragh has left us a legacy of wonderful memories. We thank him sincerely for that. We wish him his wife and daughter all the best as they enjoy more time together. One last near unsolvable problem for me and I leave it to the readers to decide, if that is humanly possible.  Mick o Connell, Jack o Shea and Dara o Se. My three greatest of all midfielders. But who are the two you would like to have on your own club team???
Darragh o Se played championship football for Kerry from 1994-2009 scoring 1-31 in 81 appearances
And while all the media focus has been on those championship appearances let’s not forget the he played 96 league games for Kerry, 94 in the middle of the field, one at centre back and one at centre fordward.  He had 18 different partners. Noel o Leary (2), Owen Brosnan (2), Michael Quirke (2), Tommy Griffin (4), Kieran Donaghy (10), Joe Daly (1), Sean Burke (1) Thomas o Se (1), Brian Sheehan (1), Kenneth Dillon (1), Eamon Breen (2), Liam Flaherty (2), Seamus Scanlon (6), Seamus Moynihan (10), William Kirby (17), Donal Daly (27), Connor Kearney(3), David Moran (2).

He scored 1-31 in the league for Kerry while he played 14 times for the Kerry under 21’s scoring 6 points and he also played once for the Kerry minors scoring one point. So in his glittering inter county career now at an end Darragh wore the Green and Gold on 192 magnificent occasions.
So a huge buiochas to him 'laoch den scoth' he gave us immense enjoyment.
Gach dea ghuidhe leis 'sna blianta as seo amach.
Fogra; My thanks to Kerry football historian Tim Slattery of the Austin Stacks club for continuing to provide such wonderful stats re our footballers.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom