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Kerry right to take the heat off their captain fantastic Cooper

C olm Cooper has long been a target for Kerry's opponents. Many counties are of the mindset that if you stop him, you have a good chance of stopping Kerry.

He has become an even bigger threat since he took over as captain; he has matured and grown into the role even though he has only been in it for a few months. Being the leader of Kerry appears to be suiting him.

But this new dimension to his game brings even more unwanted attention from defenders out to make a name for themselves, and holding the Gooch scoreless is the perfect way to do just that.

I've been watching him attentively throughout the league so far and he is going through hell, taking hit after hit without much protection from the referees. It's only April, yet it's hard to see how long he can sustain it. And while he is captain, he is also a precious jewel in the Kerry set-up. On that basis, I think Jack O'Connor made the right call putting him in cold storage for today's game.

I'd have been fearful for Cooper up in Monaghan. Last year in Killarney, the game was very heated; in fact, in recent years there has been a little bit of uneasiness between the two counties, an underlying tension.

The only problem I see with Monaghan is that they haven't rectified their defensive worries, especially fielding the ball over their heads. You simply won't get on without that skill and it's going to catch most players out, whether you're a back or a forward.

And more often than not, if a player has this flaw in his game, it's exposed at a critical moment. Things have really started to come together for Kerry now, so I don't think Monaghan will prove much of a stumbling block.

Mayo seem to be where Kerry were a few months back. They are chopping and changing their team in an effort to get the right mix of players. They got an awful hop from the way they defended against Dublin last time, before they even got a kick of the ball they had a mountain to climb. They have been playing very sporadic football to date.

Mayo are the one county that baffle me, you just couldn't bet on them. I'd have more confidence in

Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte fixing the banking crisis than in Mayo winning an All-Ireland title.

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When looking at their team I could never pick ten or 11 players from Mayo that I could guarantee would put on the green and red jersey and play out of their skins. That depth of character just seems to be missing but, in saying that, I know it's there -- they just need to find it, collectively.

Although Kerry really dug out a game up there in Castlebar, Cork at the moment are the form team and I can only go on what I've seen over the last few months so I'd have to expect the All-Ireland champions to edge it. But I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek because they have proved me so wrong so often.

Without a doubt Galway need the win but I don't think they will get it off Armagh. The only thing I can say about Galway right now is that they have a very useful panel but they are just not putting it together.

There is a new management in there so that will always be challenging. Cool heads are necessary in Galway for the rest of the league.

They will be delighted when it's all over so they can put it aside and go into hibernation for a few months. If they use the interim between the league and the championship right, thrash out their problems in the privacy of their own camp, there will be no fear of them.

Sometimes a rest is as good as a change.

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