Looney: Gooch deserves to take break
KERRY forward Brian Looney has backed his clubmate Colm 'Gooch' Cooper's decision to take a break from football after Dr Crokes' exit from the All-Ireland club championship.
Cooper, along with a number of other frontline players, remains absent, despite the Kingdom losing their first three league outings and the very real threat of relegation that now hangs over Eamonn Fitzmaurice's men.
Fitzmaurice hinted recently that Cooper may not feature in this year's league at all, and Looney believes a refreshed Cooper will be of more benefit to Kerry as the season progresses.
"Colm has played a lot of football over the years and he's always under a lot of pressure to perform," said Looney.
"I think it's good for Colm to recuperate and get the body right, so that when he comes back, he's right for the road. It'll be a good thing going forward. There's a good few bodies returning now, with Paul Galvin coming back from the club championship and Declan O'Sullivan from an injury."
Four Crokes players – county captain Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O'Leary, Johnny Buckley and Fionn Fitzgerald – featured in Kerry's narrow defeat to Kildare last weekend.
Looney was an unused substitute, but after being named as AIB's club footballer of the year for Munster, he is hopeful he can establish himself under Fitzmaurice.
"When there's new management, the slate is clean, so everyone has a good chance. It was tough being involved with the club and you are missing out on a lot of training with the county, but I've been given the chance now," he said.
"So, I'm looking to do as much as I can in training and, hopefully, impress enough to land a place in the squad. I'm enjoying it, it's a great set-up to be involved in and it will improve my game."
And while the county's forwards came in for particular stick after toothless performances against Mayo and Dublin, Looney believes they turned a corner in Newbridge and are ready to take on All-Ireland champions Donegal in Ballybofey.
"It's been a tough transition. You've had a lot of new faces come into the forwards over the last number of weeks and a lot of teams are playing systems that are more defensive, so it's tougher for attackers," he said.
"It is becoming a lot harder to break down teams.
"The lads are training hard and there is great enthusiasm from Eamonn and (trainer) Cian O'Neill. There was a much improved performance from the team and we were disappointed not to take the points from the Kildare game, which was there for the taking at times.
"Everyone is putting their shoulder to the wheel and the enthusiasm of management is there to see, so, hopefully, it will reap rewards.
"Things are improving, so we'll be looking to progress further up in Donegal and collect two points."