Don't write off 'ageing' Kerry - Cooper
Colm Cooper has acknowledged that Kerry are an ageing team -- but don't mistake that as an admission that they are too old to add to their collection of All-Ireland titles.
Cooper was in Dublin yesterday for the launch of eircom's three-year partnership sponsorship of the All-Ireland Football Championship and agreed that describing their profile as 'ageing' was "fair comment".
The Kerry captain has been in majestic form in the Allianz League since returning from club duty with Dr Crokes, clearly relishing his new leadership role.
Kerry won four league games in succession against Galway, Armagh, Monaghan and Down to finish level with Cork in second place in Division 1. For Cooper, that illustrates why they will still be one of the most competitive teams this summer, regardless of the perception that they are clocking up too many miles.
"That's a fair comment to say we're an ageing team but we feel there is enough there to be challenging for an All-Ireland," he said.
"We've introduced a few new players so that mixes up everything. I feel we have enough to compete.
"If you go through the 27 (players on the panel), it's more miles on the clock than anything else and obviously that can take its toll as well.
"I wouldn't go writing guys off to say there isn't a few more years left in them. There are guys like Tomas O Se who are a little bit older. He won't like me saying that, but by and large our guys aren't very old. Marc O Se and Brossie (Eoin Brosnan) are in their early 30s but after that myself and Star (Kieran Donaghy) are 27, Declan O'Sullivan is 26. They've a lot of miles on the clock but I don't think we'll be too far away."
Cooper has defended Kerry's warm-weather training trip to Portugal next week which has been at the centre of a spat between the manager Jack O'Connor and the 'Kerryman' newspaper.
Criticism of the trip in the current economic climate was made in the paper, prompting O'Connor to instruct his players not to speak to its journalists.
"It's something that we've done in the past and it's worked out well for us and we're anxious to do it," said Cooper. "It's very good preparation for the championship, I feel.
"There's a big deal made of it but most teams do it. Dublin were in Scotland, Waterford hurlers are going to Reading. We're doing it and that's it. Hopefully we'll see the benefit of it later on in the championship."