Tribute to Liam Higgins

November 14th, 2006
by Paidi O Se

Liam Higgins was one of my closest friends, if not the closest. As well as being a fine footballer, he was a talented teacher in Dingle CBS, but he had the misfortune to have me as one of his pupils. I am sorry to say, he made a very bad job of me!

As a pupil himself, Liam sat beside my brother Tom. He taught the four O Se brothers, my nephews Fergal, Darragh, Tomas and Marc, and would have taught my own son, Paidi Og, except that illness overwhelmed him at the age of 64.

As a schoolteacher, he was ahead of his time. Commerce was his favourite subject. I remember my brother Tom getting grinds from Liam for a computer course. Liam thought that Tom was picking things up, whereas in fact he wasn't! Such is the teacher's lot.

As a footballer, Liam was a fine full-forward. He was a distributor of the ball rather than a scorer.

I can still see Mick O'Connell or DJ Crowley sending the ball up to him, and Liam playing the ball back for Brendan Lynch or Pat Griffin or the late Eamonn O'Donoghue to run on to and to place it over the bar. Under Jackie Lyne, Kerry won All-Irelands in 1969 and 1970, and Liam Higgins and Pat Griffin became brilliant exponents of the one-two.

Liam was a selector when Kerry won four-in-a-row. I was a player on those teams, and I constantly travelled with him by car to matches. When I was finally dropped from the Kerry team by Mick O'Dwyer, it was Liam who, as a selector, was deputed to tell me, and I know that he found that hard.

He twice travelled the world with Kerry teams, as a player in 1970 and a selector in 1981. Later, he became a noteworthy broadcaster, starting on Raidio na Gaeltachta, and then going on to Radio Kerry, where his commentaries with Weeshie Fogarty were listened to avidly.

Only last September, he broadcast on the All-Ireland football final on Radio Kerry.

He was proud of the achievements of his brother, the Socialist Party TD, Joe Higgins.

Last Whit Tuesday Liam told me of his illness, and I watched his battle with cancer in admiration over the following months. He was ardent in everything he did: ardent in the service of his school in Dingle; ardent in the service of his place of birth, Lispole; ardent in the service of Kerry football.

My deep sympathy goes to his wife Liz, his children Cian, Jacqueline, Eileen, and Liam Og, his partner Helen, and to his mother Nell, an un-believably resilient and brave lady.

Ta suil agam go dtabharfaidh geatai na gloire failte agus feile roimhis.

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