Thursday 27 April 2017

Dermot Crowe: Cooper still sharp in mind, it was his aging body that called it quits

Colm Cooper runs on to the field in Killarney yesterday for his first game with Dr Crokes since announcing his retirement from inter-county football. Photo: Eamonn Keogh
Colm Cooper runs on to the field in Killarney yesterday for his first game with Dr Crokes since announcing his retirement from inter-county football. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

Dermot Crowe

Colm Cooper said he resisted the temptation to carry on for a 16th season in the Kerry jersey by coldly refusing to allow "sentiment" blur his judgement. In an exclusive interview with Vincent Hogan, carried in yesterday's Irish Independent, the 33-year-old forward spoke about the decision which dominated headlines for much of the last week.

He revealed how he met with Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice in Tralee two weeks earlier to discuss his situation, having been unavailable to Kerry up to now due to Dr Crokes' extended run in the club championship. That finished with an All-Ireland triumph on St Patrick's Day, with Cooper scoring their goal as they overcame Slaughtneil.

"I basically told him that my body was tired, that I just wasn't sure I had the energy," Cooper recounted. "I'd picked up injuries with the club, a shoulder injury against Corofin (in the All-Ireland semi-final). So I missed two weeks' training after that and then my back was quite stiff going into the final too.

"Since Christmas, I'd trained fairly well, but I seemed to be getting more and more niggles. And I was thinking to myself that going back with Kerry with all this stuff going on just wouldn't be sustainable. I was very honest and open with Eamonn. I told him that I had to take sentiment out of the decision completely."

Cooper is the last remaining link to the Kerry team that won the 2004 All-Ireland, his first of four won on the field of play. He also won eight All Star awards but valued the recent club victory, after a series of disappointments, as highly as any of his career achievements.

In February 2014, he tore his cruciate ligament in his knee and has struggled with different injuries since getting back to fitness.

"I just felt everyone seemed to assume I'd be going back, but if I can't be at the peak of my powers in an inter-county set-up, it's the wrong place for me to be."

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