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James Crombie/INPHO Colm Cooper embraces Kieran Donaghy after the All-Ireland final.
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Gooch on how the Kerry 'family' helped him cope with his knee injury and his mother's death
“The six months between doing your knee and losing your mother were particularly difficult.”

COLM COOPER SAYS the Kerry players or manager don’t realise just how much being part of the group helped him deal with his mother’s death and his cruciate knee injury.

Cooper, who missed the entire inter-county campaign through injury, lost his mother Maureen in August and admits feeling part of the Kingdom squad helped him cope with her death.

“I suppose the six months between doing your knee and losing your mother was a particularly difficult couple of months,” he said yesterday. “You’re saying to yourself ‘where do you go to pick up the pieces here?’ and that kind of thing.”

“But the fact that Kerry were going well, I was in training and feeling part of the group, that was a massive boost to me that I didn’t realize or maybe the players and Eamonn didn’t realize.

“That was helping me along so much and it gave me a focus that Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, I was training with Kerry and I’d my mind occupied and I was busy at work at the time.

“In a way, that helped most definitely. Sometimes when you’ve too much time to be thinking, that can be difficulty. Being busy was a help and I kept powering on.”

In the immediate aftermath of the cruciate injury he suffered while on Dr Crokes duty back in February, Cooper wasn’t enamored with joining back up with the panel. The extent of the injury ruled him out from realistically returning until 2015, but after some time away and a chat with Eamon Fitzmaurice, he changed his mind.

“Initially no I didn’t really want to be there. It’s strange any time people have a serious injury like that, I think there’s a grieving process. After the operation I was kind of down for a few weeks and looking for a chink of light.

Colm Cooper Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“How is this going to fix you, you’re struggling to get off the couch, you’re struggling to go to the toilet, you’re thinking how the hell am I going to go back.

“Then you’re struggling to watch a match and you’re thinking how will I ever play at that pace again. Those type of things go through your mind. Just during the summer, myself and Eamon had a chat.

“It was really my call. It’d be good for me if I was part of the group and did my training inside as professionally as possible. We’d the Kerry doctors and physios in there. Which is what I wanted.”

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The Killarney man’s transition to spectator isn’t something he particularly enjoyed, although he feels it got rid of some “staleness” which as a result may help him prolong his career.

“You’re used to being out in the middle of it where you can have some influence over it. But when you’re sitting in the stands, its’ difficult to do. It’s a good experience because if you ever take anything for granted, you definitely won’t take anything for granted if you’re out on the field again.

“That’s the big thing. I love playing for Kerry. Do I want more? Absolutely. Do I need to work a lot harder? Incredibly so. You just have to sacrifice so much to get back and finish your career on a high, whether that involves getting on the Kerry team, winning medals, in Kerry it comes down to medals and there are more to be won in my opinion and I want to be part of it.”

“I’m just itching and raring to go. For me there’s a little bit of hunger and fire in the belly to get back. To prove to myself that I can get back. Ultimately prove to Eamon that I’m strong enough to get back and push for a place again.”

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Colm Cooper was at the launch of the new Lucozade Sport Kit Out Project. Sports clubs and sports enthusiasts around Ireland can get kit by collecting promotional codes. The Kit Out Project offers essential sports kit such as balls, cones, jerseys, bibs and much more. For more information visit www.lucozadesport.ie

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