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Jack on Gooch return - 'It would be a romantic notion but not a runner'

Colm Cooper togged out last Saturday but a cruciate injury still looks like sidelining him for the All-Ireland final.

Jack O'Connor and Colm Cooper after Kerry's 2009 qualifier against Antrim.
Jack O'Connor and Colm Cooper after Kerry's 2009 qualifier against Antrim.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

COLM COOPER DONNING the number 28 jersey last Saturday at the Gaelic Grounds whipped up a frenzied debate as to whether Kerry’s brilliant forward is set for a sensational return to action.

Manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice afterwards ruled out any chance of Cooper fast-tracking his recovery from a cruciate injury.

And former Kerry boss Jack O’Connor admits that while it is ‘a romantic notion’, he doesn’t envisage Cooper making an incredible comeback for the All-Ireland final on September 21st.

“You never say never. It will depend on the circumstances, like. I mean, I’m certain the Gooch will be desperate to play, absolutely desperate to play but realistically he’s only done the warm-ups, a bit of kicking, a bit of running and whatever.

“I don’t think he has done any contact stuff, so unless he does full on contact before the final. It would be a romantic notion but not a runner.”

Captain's Day ahead of the Electric Ireland GAA All-Ireland Minor Finals Source: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

The Gooch

Cooper is still immersed in the squad’s preparations and will play a valuable role before the decider.

“Gooch is never a distraction,” says O’Connor. “Gooch is a very positive guy, he’s been inside with the squad and it’s a great support to the management that he’s around the place.

“Gooch is a great thinker of the game, he’s very clever and he would be having a quiet word in fellas’ ears. He would be a great fella to hop something off.”

Kerry’s season has undergone a remarkable transformation considering the negativity that enveloped the county after a spate of retirements last winter and the season-ending injury that Cooper incurred. But O’Connor believes that lower expectations have worked to Kerry’s advantage.

James OÕDonoghue and Jonahtan Lyne celebrate after the game Kerry players James O'Donoghue and Jonathan Lyne celebrate after last week's victory. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Doom And Gloom

“I remember doing a Raidió Na Gaeltachta interview the day after Gooch got injured”, recalls O’Connor. “Of course it was like all doom and gloom in Kerry. The lady who was interviewing me was very pessimistic about Kerry’s chances.

“I said in a perverse way this would take the pressure off the Kerry team in that other players could flourish without the expectation but that Kerry needed to have a renaissance for the likes of (Kieran) Donaghy. I think something like that has happened. Kerry have managed to fly under the radar all the year, give the impression they’re rebuilding and yet be a very serious team.

“Expectation is an amazing thing. I think expectation got to Dublin. No question. When you’re touted that highly and you’re hot favourites, I don’t care what way you approach the game, it can be very difficult to get the mind properly focused.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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