Sheehy: we are still contenders

Paul Brennan

MIKEY Sheehy believes that Kerry can still win the All-Ireland Championship this year despite the loss of Colm Cooper, who Sheehy describes as "irreplacable".

Sheehy has expressed his personal disappointment for Cooper's plight, whose entire season has been ended by the cruciate ligament injury he suffered in Dr Crokes' defeat to Castlebar in the All-Ireland Club Championship on Saturday.

However, while describing Cooper as a footballer who is irreplacable, Sheehy is adamant that Kerry's chance of winning the Sam Maguire Cup in September has not disappeared.

"I'm genuine when I say this but, no, I wouldn't say our chance is gone. Of course our job has just been made much more difficult, but I honestly believe that the talent is still there to win the All-Ireland.

"Colm is a once in a lifetime footballer, an incredible talent, but I know the rest of the lads won't want it said that we are a one-man team, or a one-man forward unit. It's up to the rest of the lads to step up now and if everyone ups their performances a few percent I really believe we will be contenders. I still think a lot of counties will still fear us down the road in the summer," Sheehy said.

Cooper was diagnosed with a ruptured cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee after getting caught up in an accidental collsion in Dr Crokes All-Ireland Club semi-final defeat to Castlebar. A scan on Monday at the Santry Sports Clinic confirmed the worst fears.

Cooper will attend the clinic this Friday for preparatory treatment and will undergo an operation within the next forthnight, after which the long rehabilitation will begin. The best case scenario is that Cooper would be back playing football in seven or eight months, but the likelihood is that the eight-time All Star won't be back playing competitively until 2015.

Meanwhile, there was another set-back for the Kerry team management with the news that Jonathan Lyne will be sidelined for up to four weeks after injuring his hamstring playing for Munster in the Interprovincial Championship against Connacht last Sunday.

There is better news ahead of Kerry's third League game away to Mayo on Sunday week as Darran O'Sullivan is very close to getting back to full fitness and he is likely to make match day panel for that trip to Castlebar.

Kieran Donaghy, Killian Young and Bryan Sheehan are continuing to rehab from injuries, but the Mayo game will probably come a week or two too soon for them.