Monday 22 December 2014

Where are they now?

Published 18/11/2012 | 05:00

PETER O'BRIEN (Former Kerry footballer)



Kerry footballer Colm Cooper has been known as 'the Gooch' for almost two decades. It's a unique name that was accidentally given to him by former Dr Crokes and Kerry goalkeeper Peter O'Brien and it stuck.

"There was a doll out in the '80s called the Goochie doll," explains O'Brien.

"The doll had pink hair and one day it struck me that it looked like Colm so I said it to him and then everyone started calling him Gooch. I had no idea that it would catch on like it did."

O'Brien grew up in the same estate as Cooper in Killarney and when he was eight years old he joined Dr Crokes GAA club. He started playing out the field but when he was 15 he was put into goals and that's where he stayed.

"I liked it in there, diving and pulling off saves, there was a bit of showboating involved and I liked that too."

O'Brien used to take the penalties; he was one of the first goalkeepers to do it and in a way started a trend. Goalkeeping has changed from when he played and in many ways for the better.

"It's not just about diving anymore, there is much more to a 'keeper's job. You have to be able to organise your defence and spot things that may be going wrong. You also need a kick-out strategy.

"Before the job was just stopping the ball going into the goal and kicking it out as fast as you can. There is more to it now, the training is harder too, there's special goalkeeping coaches. There was none back in the '80s and '90s."

O'Brien played with the Dr Crokes senior footballers from 1989 until 2003 and during that time won several county titles and one All-Ireland club title. He was also a member of the Kerry football squad for five years.

He works as a postman and is a goalkeeping coach for the Kerry minors. He has also worked with his club senior team and currently coaches the Dr Crokes under 10s.

Today he'll be supporting Crokes when they take on Clonmel Commercials in the Munster club championship semi-final.

"We're very confident going into the game; we have home advantage which is big in club championship. Crokes have one goal this year and that is to win the All-Ireland final on St Patrick's day."

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