Tomás committed to Kerry's cause
WITH one Ó Sé definitely gone from the Kingdom's footballing scenery, another -- Tomás -- yesterday ended speculation about his own inter- county future by publicly committing to the Kerry cause for 2010.
The retirement of older brother Darragh along with All Star goal- keeper Diarmuid Murphy, the Oz-bound Tommy Walsh and Tadhg Kennelly and the lack of confirmation about the intentions of Mike McCarthy has left Jack O'Connor shorn of a third of last year's All-Ireland final starting team and the rumour mill has been rife in the South West with 'will he/won't he' wonderings about Tomás in recent months.
But the four-time All-Ireland- winning wing-back used yesterday's GAA/GPA Player Welfare announcement to set the record straight, albeit in typically mischievous fashion.
"If I went when Darragh went I'd say there'd be war altogether," he joked. "I said I'd have to leave him have his day in the sun.
"Ah no, I wasn't thinking about it at all," Ó Sé clarified. "When I'm enjoying it, I'll just keep doing it. When things get a bit too heated or I'm not enjoying it or getting the same kick out of it, I'll step back from it. But at the moment I'm enjoying it."
Which, for Kerry, is just as well because for O'Connor, it must feel like he is slowly being deserted by those who landed him his third All-Ireland in his first year of a second stint as manager.
Four have retired. Question marks over Tomás and McCarthy have lingered into spring and now Paul Galvin will disappear from view -- albeit temporarily.
Ó Sé stressed that he was taking the sort of early season sabbatical Darragh has been afforded in recent years and at nearly 32 years of age and with several marathons of intercounty service clocked up, who could blame him? "I have two young kids at home and I'm travelling up and down from Cork which is very hard," he explained, before adding that he plans to return to Kerry training "sometime this month".
There will, however, be a large Darragh-shaped void in the Kerry dressing-room this year and Tomás conceded that not having his big brother about will be a strange experience.
In fact, he paid as high a tribute imaginable in describing the influence Darragh wielded on Kerry's trophy-laiden recent history, pronouncing him "the best midfielder that I've seen playing football".
"Between himself and (Seamus) Moynihan, they're the two best players I've played with," he added, though he also stressed that he did not attempt to sway Darragh into committing to the cause for one last season.
"I don't think it was my place to try to convince him at all," Tomás explained. "Darragh's always been the kind of fella that if he wants to do something, he'll do it. If not, he won't. He didn't take the decision lightly."
Still, despite asserting that O'Connor and his management team will "do the right things and make the right decisions" in reshaping Kerry for the task of defending the Sam Maguire, Ó Sé surmised that the Kingdom "definitely can't afford to be losing more players".
Of McCarthy, Ó Sé was certain he could reproduce his brilliant late- season cameo again this summer and even had a mind to look on the bright side of Galvin's eight-week suspension.
"He'll come back in better shape hopefully, stronger. He got sent off last year and it did him no harm," he suggested.
Of course in normal circumstances, a winter player exodus followed by a pair of league defeats spells crisis but Kerry don't follow normal formlines and Ó Sé was fairly sure things would pick up.
"If they keep losing I won't be coming back anyway," he joked. "I think the fact that we've lost three or four players, we have to try things out and if you're trying things out with players like that there's the chance you're going to lose a few games.
"I think there's a lot of players coming back into training that weren't in training and that's going to boost up the whole thing. They'll boost morale inside there as well. Hopefully they'll get a couple of wins under their belt because it's of great importance they do stay up in Division 1," he added.