TOMAS O SÉ’s retirement was a curiously fitting end to a football season that is difficult to evaluate.
Every sport has an honour code that is more important than its rule book and O Sé epitomised what the game used to stand for.
As well as being a contender for the best No 5 ever, he was almost universally loved because of the toughness, honour, and ball-playing ability he brought to the game.
It is not that Tomas O Sé never transgressed the rules: but he never broke them in a cowardly way.
View our highlights and heroes of 2013
It’s impossible to imagine him rolling around feigning injury on the ground; he adhered to that old set of ethics where not allowing an opponent to see you are hurt was far more important than trying to cheat to get him sent off.
He is one of the last of that breed and in a season when even Dublin’s mostly admirable and positive approach was compromised by the need to ensure victory late on in the final, it is hard to know whether Gaelic football will ever again stand for what it should stand for.
That said, a season that included a brilliant league final, an unforgettable day and pitch invasion when Monaghan shocked Donegal, London’s heroics, Mayo’s near-perfection in the quarter-finals, Dublin’s relentless pace and ambition and the Gooch at his beautiful best in a tremendously entertaining semi-final cannot be considered a bad one.
If you were to have a stab at summing it up in a paragraph: The Dubs and Mayo raised the standard beyond even Tyrone and Kerry, and we will have a greater share of brilliant games only when their talent and resources are matched by a few more teams.
See are our votes for the highlights and heroes of 2013 here.