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'I didn't realise the extent of the injury, I was just saying 'come on, brush it off' but it wasn't to be'

Kieran O’Leary witnessed Colm Cooper’s season-ending injury first hand.

Kieran O'Leary: 'It was just a killer for us and a killer for him, personally'
Kieran O'Leary: 'It was just a killer for us and a killer for him, personally'
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

HE WAS ONE of the first players on the scene to a season-defining GAA injury but Kieran O’Leary had no initial idea just how bad the prognosis was for Colm Cooper.

O’Leary rushed to aid his Dr Crokes teammate when the Gooch fell clutching his knee in February’s All-Ireland SFC club semi-final yet didn’t realise that the Kerry star’s 2014 season was going to be brought crashing to a halt.

“I didn’t realise the extent of the injury, to be honest. I was just saying ‘come on, brush it off and come back on again’ but it wasn’t going to be.

“I didn’t see the impact of the hit that he received. He even tried himself to come back on because I remember our manager saying ‘he’s gone’ then the next thing ‘he’s not gone’. It was just a killer for us and a killer for him, personally.

“I’d be very close to Colm and he’s doing very well at the moment. His rehab and everything is going great for him. Obviously, that day he was an extremely big loss to us but that’s life, it’s just football and that’s the way it goes.”

The bad news kept piling on for Dr Crokes as they subsequently lost that game – a third successive semi-final reversal for the Killarney-based club. O’Leary admits it was ‘a killer’ but for himself and teammates Fionn Fitzgerald, Johnny Buckley and Daithi Casey, the inter-county call meant they had to quickly rediscover their hunger for football.

“It was a killer, it was very disappointing, but if we were going to sit around the house it wasn’t going to do us any good either. We put on the boots and went back at it again.

“It’s going to remain an ultimate goal from a club perspective. Will we be able to get it? I don’t know but it won’t be for the lack of trying.

“I went in training two weeks after it because I had a bit of a knock but the likes of Johnny Buckley went in the following Thursday. They just went up and went at it again. They could do nothing else.”

Fionn Fitzgerald dejected at the end of the game Fionn Fitzgerald had to put club pain behind him and rejoin the county setup. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

O’Leary rejoined a Kerry setup that is noticeably altered this season. Tomás Ó Sé, Paul Galvin and Eoin Brosnan have all moved on yet amidst different dressing-room dynamic, a potent squad remains.

“A few of the senior players who retired gave their lives to the Kerry jersey and it’s well documented that they have. They have been massive losses in the dressing room, they have been massive characters. But hopefully the younger fellas that have been there the last couple of seasons can progress.

“There is great camaraderie and characters emerging from the dressing room both young and other fellas coming out of their shell. That’s a great thing and hopefully we’ll deliver on the field. We won’t know that until June 21 or 22 against Clare or Waterford.”

Kieran O'Leary, Tom O'Sullivan, Seamus Scanlon and Paul Galvin Kieran O'Leary has seen Paul Galvin (right) depart the inter-county game over the winter. Source: Cathal Noonan

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Fintan O'Toole

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