An abiding memory of great warmth and friendship
Páidí Ó Sé was a fantastic athlete and a terrific human being on top of that
David Hickey was a member of the Dublin team of the 1970s and played on Páidí Ó Sé in a number of All-Ireland finals. They became enduring friends off the field.
He was also a selector with Pat Gilroy’s Dublin side, which won the 2011 All-Ireland and beat Kerry in the final for the first time since he was a player.
John McCarthy called me on Saturday morning to tell me that Páidí had passed on. Devastating news: I was rocked and you could hear John’s voice breaking. We were both very fond of this fella, and the abiding memory is of great warmth and friendship.
When we scooted into an All-Ireland final in 1975, I had never heard of Páidí Ó Sé.
That was supposed to be a handy All-Ireland for us because they had a very young team. I had a cousin, Pat O’Byrne from Limerick, who rang to tell me: “You’re playing on a hot bit of stuff, kiddo. This guy’s a great player.” He gave me a roasting that day.
Páidí would shake hands with you at the start of a match and that was his demeanour for the rest of the game.
I never once had my jersey pulled. I never once got a clip off the ball. He never stood on my feet or anything like that. Absolutely straightforward and if you got between him and the ball, that was your problem but there was never, ever anything underhand about Páidí Ó Sé.
The main problem within GAA now in my opinion is all of this imported stuff from soccer – the diving, taunting and the psychological bulls**t that goes on.
Páidí Ó Sé was at the absolute opposite end of that spectrum. He had a supreme belief in himself, which was usually justified, and if he couldn’t win the ball fair and square – within broad parameters! – he’d feel he was letting himself down.
I feel the clips shown on TV the other night of him getting stuck into me were a distortion. That wasn’t him. It was in the heat of the game and he was unlucky to be sent off, and I probably made a meal of it to be honest.
I think the great things he did in football are what need to be remembered and I think they are what is remembered.
I couldn’t say that it was a pleasure to play against him because they weren’t always my finest hours but I have nothing but the highest respect for him as player.
I would say the same about him as a human being because when I became sick in 2006 he came up to see me and made huge efforts to support me.