By Rory Houston
Former Kerry footballer Dara Ó Cinnéide has described Páidí Ó Sé as “an exception to every rule” after the death of the eight-time All-Ireland winner today.
Ó Sé’s passing, at the age of 57, has shocked the GAA world and led to many tributes to the man credited with revitalising football in the county in a glorious career.
Under Ó Sé's leadership, Ó Cinnéide played on the successful Kerry Under-21 teams of 1995 and 1996, and the victorious senior sides of 1997 and 2000.
Ó Cinnéide told RTÉ: "They say Páidí Ó Sé broke the mould. There was no mould. He was an exception to every rule. He was an exceptional man in every single way.
"In terms of GAA, they talk about people that win medals and if medal are a measure of a man, there is a statement in that itself. Eight All-Ireland medals; it is unsurpassed.
"There were all the individual awards he won but it was his contribution really after the game as well as that.
"For a number of years he resurrected Kerry football from the doldrums. He deserves so much praise for that and that might be recognised now that he has departed."
Ó Cinnéide spoke candidly about the first impression Ó Sé made with the Kerry team and how the historic period for the Kingdom was inspired by the leadership he brought.
The 37-year-old said his fellow West Kerry man created a revolution in the county as manager and his character would be a big loss.
"I remember when Páidí Ó Sé took over the Kerry team in late 1995. He made one statement: he was going to put the spirituality back into Kerry football.
"It was at a low ebb at that time and he certainly did that. For a number of years after it, he contributed hugely.
"There is no need to talk about his prowess as a player. he achieved so much.
“As a manager - that is how I’ll remember him. He looked after us, he looked out for us, he shaped the way we played and thought about football. He was an amazing, amazing manager. He was a gregarious character, full of fun and he’ll be sorely missed."
Ó Cinnéide also said that the pride Ó Sé took in the role as Kerry manager mirrored the passion he had for it, and the same characteristics came through for his family and ideals on his background.
Ó Cinnéide added: "He was very much a players’ manager without a doubt. He loved every single player that put on a Kerry jersey and would have died for them. I like to think it was vice-versa as well.
"He injected so much loyalty amongst the players. He contributed so much to the way we thought about football and the way we behaved on and off the field. He just loved being from Kerry.
“He loved watching Kerry football, fostering the talent that was coming through at the time in the mid-to-late 90s and took huge, huge pride in Ghaeltacht and Kerry players in particular.
"He took huge pride in his own son Paidi’s achievements up to now. He was so proud of his family, of his Gaeltacht roots and so aware of the tradition that goes with Kerry football."