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Praising the Gooch - 'He’s still as good as ever. Some of the stuff he does in training is mind-blowing.'

Even after a cruciate injury, Colm Cooper is still central to Dr Crokes and Kerry.

Colm Cooper is tackled by Noel McGrath Colm Cooper is seeking an AIB All-Ireland club final place with Dr Crokes on St Patrick's Day. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

HE’S 34 NEXT June and it’s only a few years since he was struck down by the double injury blow of a torn cruciate and fractured knee.

Ever since Kerry’s championship exit last August, Colm Cooper has opted to park a decision on his inter-county future until after Dr Crokes club campaign concludes.

That journey continues on 11 February with an AIB All-Ireland club semi-final against Galway’s Corofin.

But regardless of the outcome, one of Cooper’s club teammates has firmly backed his capacity to continue shining for Kerry.

Daithi Casey, speaking at yesterday’s AIB GAA club provincial awards, has had a ringside view for the Gooch’s displays for a decade and hasn’t witnessed any signals that his football powers are diminshing.

AIB GAA Provincial Club Player of the Year Awards Daithi Casey won the 2016 AIB Munster Club Footballer of the Year award Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

“Look, I think everyone in the whole country wants to see him coming back playing.

“He’s the best that’s ever played in my view so I would love to see him back. Diarmuid Connolly is here today and he’s a serious, serious player.

“But I just think for the genuine skills and I’ve been lucky enough to play with him (Cooper) now for 10 years and I owe him a lot of medals.

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“For the moment, he’s concentrating on Crokes and hopefully we’ll get over Corofin and he can be making all the decisions he wants.

Paul Flynn and Colm Cooper after the game Kerry's Colm Cooper with Dublin's Paul Flynn after last August's All-Ireland semi-final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“He won us a lot of medals over the years and he’s just a great guy and a great leader.

“I definitely think it took him a while to find his form again. It was such a severe injury, he did his cruciate and fractured his knee.

“I think he’s still as good as ever. Some of the stuff he does in training is still mind-blowing.

“He’s still our go-to guy all the time. He’s our leader in the dressing room. He hasn’t changed too much in my view.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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