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Declan's learn their points off the Gooch

THE word rushed around Cabra -- 'The Gooch is down on the Bogies'.

Passers-by did a double-take. Was it really the genial Kerryman?

"Some of the locals were startled to see him. You could hear them saying, that's not the Gooch, is it," laughed John Caffrey, a teacher in St Declan's and All-Ireland winner (1983).

The great man was there to conduct a coaching clinic with St Declan's CBS. "It was a special day," added John.

"You couldn't meet a nicer fella. He is so unassuming. And standing beside him, he's not an imposing build at all.

"But what a footballer. Such balance, two feet -- one of the best of all-time."

Cooper proved a knock-out with the students. "He actually togged and took part in the session. It just wasn't tokenism," explained John.

"And he had so many little gems that he imparted to the lads. He told them they probably saw him as a successful Kerry footballer with four All-Ireland medals.


"But he also told him that he had lost four All-Ireland finals and that everybody has their bad days. He underlined that the most important thing of all is that you have to keep on putting in the effort and working on your skills."

Bernard Brogan accompanied Colm.

"We had lunch beforehand and everything worked out well. The pupils really appreciated the effort that the Gooch put in, and I think they'll look on him in a different light now... even if he is a Kerry footballer," smiles John.

The Brogans (Alan, Bernard, Paul and James), plus Barry Cahill and Declan Lally are six past pupils of St Declan's that are involved with the Dubs.

"We got a special poster done out with shots of the six lads playing in Croke Park and we presented it to Colm. On receiving it, he made a few funny remarks. He has a wonderful sense of humour."

Taking part in the session were last season's Declan's side that won the Tom Quinlan Cup (first year football) and the current Dublin U14A champions.

"Things are going very well here in the school.

"Dublin winning the All-Ireland is always going to give you an extra boost. And now, people can say that The Gooch played on the Bogies."