Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO Kerry footballer Colm Cooper.
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Colm Cooper retires after brilliant Kerry football career
The 33-year-old won four All-Ireland senior medals with the county. / YouTube

COLM COOPER HAS brought the curtain down on his great Kerry football career today.

The news of Cooper’s retirement was first revealed by Colm Keys in this morning’s Irish Independent and it has been confirmed in a statement issued by Cooper on the Kerry GAA website. 

The 33-year-old has enjoyed a glittering career in the Kerry senior football ranks since making his championship debut against Limerick in 2002.

His 85th and final appearance for the Kingdom came last August in the All-Ireland semi-final loss to Dublin.

In between he claimed a range of major honours for Kerry.

  • All-Ireland senior – 4 – 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009
  • National league – 3
  • Munster senior – 9
  • All-Stars – 8

His departure was not unexpected after recently landing an All-Ireland senior club title with Dr Crokes on St Patrick’s Day, an honour that he had craved for much of his career.

The success was all the sweeter after he had battled back from tearing his cruciate ligament in February 2014, an injury that left him sidelined that season as Kerry went on to lift Sam Maguire in September with victory over Donegal.

In an official statement, Cooper spoke about the ‘amazing journey’ he had been on with Kerry and how he had achieved his ultimate dreams.

Colm Cooper

“Today I wish to announce my retirement from the Kerry senior football team.

“It has been an amazing journey and one that I never wanted to end, however, I feel that this is the right time for me step away from inter county football. Representing the Kingdom for the past seventeen years has given me a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction.

“To my Kerry teammates that I have soldiered with throughout the years, thank you for your guidance, patience and friendship. I feel extremely lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights with you all.

Aidan O'Mahony celebrates a point with Colm Cooper James Crombie / INPHO Aidan O'Mahony and Colm Cooper celebrating their victory over Tyrone in 2012. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“To get the opportunity to play with, and against, some of the greatest players in the history of the GAA has given me memories that I will always treasure.

“During my career I have been very fortunate to work with some outstanding Kerry managers. They gave me the confidence to develop my game which allowed me to perform at the highest level.

“I would like to thank the Kerry County Board, backroom staff and medical teams for their constant help and support throughout my career.

“A huge thank you to the loyal Kerry fans at home and abroad for their continuous support. I now become a supporter and wish the team all the best in their quest for honours in 2017.

“I would like to thank my club Dr. Crokes for nurturing my talents and giving me the belief that there was no limit to what I could achieve, also to get the opportunity to Captain Kerry teams is something I’m extremely privileged to have done.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my Dr. Crokes career.

“Finally to my family, without you none of my successes would have been possible. Through the ups and downs, you were the people that believed in me and kept me going. For this I am forever grateful.

“It is very rare for people to achieve their ultimate dreams in life – I just have.”

Colm Cooper lifts the Sam Maguire cup Cathal Noonan / INPHO Colm Cooper lifts Sam Maguire in 2014. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Tributes were paid to Cooper by his current and former Kerry managers.

Éamonn Fitzmaurice

“On behalf of the players and management I would like to congratulate Colm Cooper on his retirement from inter county football.

“He has been an incredible servant to the green and gold since his debut 15 years ago in a Division 2 League final in 2002 where he scored a goal with his first touch of the ball which set the tone for what was to follow.

“His list of honours outlines what an illustrious career he has had.

“I was lucky enough to have both played with and managed him. As a player when on the ball in matches I looked for him and in training I tended to steer clear of him.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with him as manager. When I first took over Kerry, one of the main things I wanted to do for the 2013 season was to release Colm from the confines of the inside line and allow him to express himself from centre forward.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice celebrates with Colm Cooper Morgan Treacy / INPHO Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Colm Cooper after the 2014 All-Ireland final. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“It was a fresh challenge for him and he set about learning the intricacies of his new position with gusto.

“On a training camp to Portugal one evening in April that year we played flat out football. I can still vividly recall his performance on that beautiful sunny evening as he put on a clinic of how a playmaker should run the game from 11.

“The excitement that generated in the group was incredible. Unfortunately we did come up short in 2013, but he had an excellent summer culminating in his signature performance in the All Ireland semi final.

“There was one moment prior to James O Donoghue’s goal when he had to take a step back to buy himself the half yard and half second necessary for the move to develop sufficiently before he threaded a delightful pass to Donnchadh Walsh who in turn set up James for the goal.


“It was Colm exemplified in one score. His awareness and decision making is on a different level. His ability to slow everything down for a second, his skills and of course that bit of magic he possesses with a feint or a dummy is what makes him so unique.

“His iron will to win and his leadership abilities shone through also. While recovering from a serious injury during the summer of 2014 he helped to drive the squad towards the All Ireland which depicted what a team player he was.

“He was one of the few players that managed to transcend county loyalties and was a player that people from all over the country loved to watch. He has given us all countless hours of enjoyment.

“I wish him all the best for the future on and off the field.”

Jack O’Connor

“It was a privilege for me to work with Colm Cooper. He was the most intelligent player I have ever seen. I remember saying one time that Cooper had forgotten more about football than the rest of us will ever know.

“He always thought a couple of steps ahead of everyone else. Outside of his brilliance and his fantastic individual scores what was remarkable about Colm was that he got more satisfaction out of making a score than getting one himself.

“In that regard he was totally without ego and a complete team player. He has been a tremendous role model in Kerry and throughout the GAA world and the younger generation adore him.

Jack O'Connor celebrates with Colm Cooper Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Jack O'Connor and Colm Cooper celebrate the 2009 All-Ireland final win. Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

“I brought him in to speak to the Kerry minor panel a couple of years ago and their mouths were open listening to him. He should stay involved in Kerry football in some capacity because we can’t afford to lose the kind of intelligence that he has.

“For now, thanks for the great memories Colm – there will never be another one like you.”

Dr Crokes

“Colm Cooper always was, and still is, a fantastic clubman. He comes from a family that has made a tremendous contribution over the years to our club and many continue to play a key role coaching within the club.

“Colm, probably the most gifted footballer of his generation, never forgot where he came from and has always made himself available whenever needed by the club.

“Congratulations Colm on a great career with Kerry.”

Denis Coleman, Dr Crokes chairman.

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