Saturday 22 July 2017

'I think come September they might be ready for them' - Colm Cooper tipping Kerry for All-Ireland glory

A disappointed Colm Cooper of Kerry after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final game between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
A disappointed Colm Cooper of Kerry after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final game between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

Colm Cooper has said that 'the time is right' to make a change to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with the five-time All-Ireland winner backing a group stage format, akin to UEFA's Champions League, to replace the championship's current structure.

The GAA already made a pivotal change to the football championship in February when they voted to scrap the quarter-final stages for a new 'Super 8' format at their annual congress in Croke Park, whereby the four provincial champions and the four provincial runners-up, or the team that beats them in round four of the qualifiers, will be sorted into two groups of four.

However, Cooper has called for further alterations to the championship's structure and would like to see group stages implemented before the 'Super 8's' commence.

"I think the time is right for change," Cooper told RTE Sport at the launch of the broadcaster's championship coverage on Sunday.

"Personally I think looking at the groups and playing it likes a Champions League format might be worth trying.

"I think we're at the point that we need to try something.

"If it doesn't work we can change again, but I think it would be better for all teams to create those groups of four and play those games," the Dr Crokes forward said.

"I think you would get the crowds, it would create a lot of great atmospheres around the country and it would be a big step forward for the GAA."

Cooper also predicted that his former side might be able to pull off the league and championship double over longtime rivals Dublin in September, but for that the moment, Jim Gavin's side are still the benchmark in Gaelic Football.

"Kerry have been steadily improving through the league and I think winning the National League will give them a great deal of confidence," he added.

"Also, to get Killian Young and James O’Donoghue back and Shane Enright, who didn’t play against Dublin in the league final, I think it’s exciting times for them.

"Dublin are definitely the benchmark but I think Kerry, come September, might be ready for them this time.

"It’s shaping up for another Kerry-Dublin final. It seems the path has opened for them to meet in a final, if things go right for both teams, and I think it'd be a great spectacle if that works out."

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