ALMOST 12 years to the same weekend he won his first medal as a teenager against Gneeveguilla back in 2000 did Colm Cooper really think he would ever get to equal Jackie Looney and Con Clifford's record haul of 10 medals in the East Kerry Championship?
"Being honest, no. I remember at the time thinking if I got three or four it would be well earned but I think that both myself and Eoin can consider us lucky to be part of such a great team that has allowed us to get to 10 here today.
"It (the 10 medals) wasn't something I was too conscious of throughout the year with all the other competitions I was in but I knew it was an important year for the club in terms of equalling the other sevenin-a-row in East Kerry. This is a very close second to the county championship in terms of our priorities and Noel O'Leary spoke during the week about how 20 or 30 years ago the club was struggling to get teams together in the competition for matches, something that's unthinkable now," he told The Kerryman.
Overall, Cooper found last Sunday a worthwhile exercise. "It certainly has brought us back down to earth a bit after Castlehaven and has shown us some of the things we need to work on ahead of next Sunday in London.
"I think the third goal was crucial for us today, it certainly gave us the cushion we needed to keep Rathmore at bay but it was a tough challenge overall. It wasn't any conscious thing by me to drop back so deep towards the end, the body was starting to tire and I was just worried that I would be able to get back so quickly if I went forward but a few holes needed to be plugged in defence and thankfully we just got there in the end," Gooch said.
Meanwhile, Ambrose O'Donovan wasn't too surprised to see his team-mate funnel back.
"I remember him playing corner-back underage; you never know he might end up in defence for us before he retires! Seriously though this was a tough challenge for again today with Rathmore, they are a coming team and I expect to see more of them in the near future. It certainly has given us plenty to think about before we head over to Tir Chonaill Gaels," the Crokes midfielder said.
While there might be a sense of feeling as far away as ever for Rathmore (and the entire East Kerry district) in trying to stop the Crokes in their home patch, Rathmore manager Denis Desmond praised the fighting spirit of his side.
"We kept battling even when the chips appeared to be down and I'm proud of the lads for that. We upped our ante from pervious performances against them but the Crokes did the same with theirs and it was always just that step beyond us today."