Stabbing made sure I'll never take anything for granted - Cooper
Published 30/10/2015 | 02:30
Having lain in a hospital bed suffering from multiple stab wounds just over a year ago, Jonny Cooper will never take his privileged position in football, or in life, for granted again.
The tigerish corner-back was "lucky" to escape with only superficial injuries following the late-night attack and he added his second All-Ireland title with Dublin exactly 12 months later.
After watching the 2011 decider alone in the Hogan Stand, the 2013 win was sweet. But after going through a rollercoaster of emotion in the off-season, 2015 was even more satisfying.
"I suppose I always took Dublin and a lot of things for granted up until that happened and something like that changes everything. It refocuses, gets your feet back on the ground," Cooper (right) admitted.
"It reinforces the need to live each day as it comes and take the opportunities that arise. This year has been a bit of a journey for me personally.
"Because I was on the bench near the end this year, I was able to sit back for the last 10 or 15 minutes and take it all in a little bit more. It was very satisfying."
The 25-year-old acknowledged his initial fears about ever donning a Dublin jersey again following the incident but thankfully those concerns quickly abated.
Even before his wounds were healed, thoughts immediately moved to atoning for their shock 2014 semi-final defeat to Donegal, a scar which would drive the team throughout the year.
"Those opportunities might not be there again and that personal journey was something I had to go on at the start and then going back into the team environment, your personal situation and ego and everything else goes out the window," he said.
"I was glad for that to come around when it did in December. If anything it reminds me that you can't take anything for granted, be it an chance with Dublin or a personal opportunity in life.
"It was something more to drive me on than anything else. It's been a strange initial part of the 12 months but once football came around, it was business as usual, trying to get back into the team."
Dublin GAA, and the wider GAA community, were a huge shoulder to lean on during Cooper's recovery. And what a recovery it was as the Na Fianna clubman picked up his first All-Star nomination after a string of consistent defensive displays.
He has been a trusty lieutenant of Jim Gavin over the past three seasons, having previously led his U-21 side to All-Ireland success in 2010.
Following his remarkable journey to redemption this season, Cooper is more than willing to advise people to ensure similar instances are reduced in the future.
"I'm sure people go through a lot more torturous things, illnesses and whatever, and I am incredibly lucky to have a lot of opportunities playing with Dublin," he said.
"If I can help someone else, and if someone can learn from my own misfortunes and mistakes, it's even more important. The positives always outweigh the negatives.
"Just stick together on nights out in town or wherever, things can happen if you wander off on your own anywhere. Unfortunately, it happened to me so stick together."
Everyone can learn something from Cooper's story, and with Dublin on the crest of a wave, it's hard to see them taking anything for granted. Rivals be warned.
Jonny Cooper was speaking at the launch of SuperValu's new car and home insurance initiative in association with AIG