KERRY without the Gooch is akin to Barcelona minus Messi.
So says Kerry football legend Pat Spillane, whose anguished reaction to Colm Cooper's dreaded cruciate diagnosis has been mirrored throughout the Kingdom.
"It's taking Messi out of Barcelona, Ronaldo out of Real Madrid. That is what it is," Spillane lamented when told of Cooper's fate by The Herald.
"You are taking the greatest Gaelic footballer in the country out of your team, a team that is very much in transition, has lost a lot of its leaders from last year - and has now lost its best player, its leader and its captain.
"You would want to be a master of PR spin to find a chink of light out of this," the RTE pundit added.
Kerry had been fearing the worst since their talisman (pictured) hobbled out of Saturday's All-Ireland club SFC semi-final between Dr Crokes and Castlebar.
Now, adding salt to the wound of another painful defeat for the Killarney club, Cooper faces reconstructive knee surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the inter-county season.
"A scan has revealed that Colm Cooper has ruptured his cruciate ligament. He will undergo surgery in due course," Kerry GAA confirmed.