Colm Cooper injury leaves Kerry plans in shreds
Colm Cooper will undergo surgery to repair a cruciate ligament rupture within two weeks before undergoing intensive rehabilitation that will aim to have him back playing football within nine months.
Cooper looks set to miss the entire inter-county season but could conceivably play a part in a Munster club campaign in November if everything goes well with his recovery and Dr Crokes were to win a fifth successive Kerry SFC in his probable absence.
The eight-time All Star must first return to Santry Sports Clinic, where he underwent a scan and received his diagnosis yesterday, for a procedure on Friday aimed at taking down the swelling on his right knee.
The news rocked the Kerry GAA public yesterday to such a degree that their chairman Patrick O'Sullivan, a Dr Crokes colleague and friend of the player, described it as being "like a death in the family".
Cooper, who will be 31 later this year, has never been injured seriously playing football before, which has ensured a run of 76 successive championship appearances since he made his debut in 2002.
Former Kerry manager Jack O'Connor said the injury was compounded by Kerry's dependence on the player which, he feels, has never been greater on the back of the 2013 championship campaign that he enjoyed.
"Kerry will have to consider playing a different way because of this. You just don't replace Colm Cooper, especially what he did for the team last season.
"There isn't another player who can do what he can do. You just have to adapt to it and work out different ways for different players," he said.
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, who has already lost Tomás Ó Sé, Eoin Brosnan and Paul Galvin to retirement over the last four months, was committed to resting his captain for the majority of the league campaign anyway regardless of Dr Crokes' progress.
Dr Crokes released a statement last night. "Colm, as well as being an outstanding player for Club and County, is a tremendous ambassador for Dr. Crokes both off and on the pitch. GAA fields around Kerry and beyond will be all the poorer for his absence."