Tuesday 20 February 2018

Colm Cooper gets the nod to start first Championship game in two years

Kerry legend Gooch back in the trenches as Fitzmaurice decides to hold O’Donoghue in reserve

Colm Cooper goes through his paces during the Kerry training session in Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney last night
Colm Cooper goes through his paces during the Kerry training session in Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney last night
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Colm Cooper will start his first Championship match for Kerry for almost two years as Kerry begin the defence of their Munster and All-Ireland titles against Tipperary in Thurles on Sunday.

Manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has opted to send the game's most celebrated footballer straight into the action for the game which will be his first Kerry start since the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.

The eight-time All Star has recovered from a cruciate ligament rupture which he sustained while playing for his club Dr Crokes against Castlebar Mitchels in an All-Ireland semi-final last year.

He missed last season and only played a few minutes of Kerry's last League match against Tyrone in April.

But he has been named to start at centre-forward, where Fitzmaurice deployed him in 2013, for his 77th Championship appearance.

Kerry will have only seven of their All-Ireland team starting on Sunday.

David Moran has been ruled out with a shoulder injury, Paul Murphy has a similar injury while James O'Donoghue has been held in reserve as he continues to rehabilitate from his shoulder operation.

Goalkeeper Brian Kelly, Aidan O'Mahony, last year's captain Fionn Fitzgerald, Donnchadh Walsh and Stephen O'Brien are also among the replacements.

Of the six substitutes that Kerry used in last year's All-Ireland final, four will start on Sunday - Shane Enright, Barry John Keane, Bryan Sheehan and Michael Geaney.

Kerry's Jonathan Lyne in action against Aidan McCrory of Tyrone

Jonathan Lyne comes in for his first Championship start at half-back while Mark Griffin has been included at full-back.

Brendan Kealy has been restored to the goalkeeping position after missing out last season.

Tommy Walsh has also been named among the replacements but there will be involvement for Paul Galvin who is not listed in the 26-man squad.

Marc O Se will play in his 81st Championship game for Kerry, bringing him level with older brother Darragh. He'll still be seven behind their other brother Tomas who has played 88 Championship games for his county.

Meanwhile Alan O'Connor returns to the Cork team to face Clare in the other Munster semi-final after an absence of almost two years.

O'Connor was recently coaxed out of retirement and goes straight into midfield where he will partner Kevin O'Driscoll.

O'Driscoll is one of three brothers on the starting team with Colm and Brian O'Driscoll also named. Fintan Goold and Noel Galvin have been held in reserve as Donncha O'Connor, Paul Kerrigan and Nemo Rangers' Stephen Cronin come into the side.

Meanwhile Tipperary have kept faith with the same 15 that eased past Waterford in the opening round. Colin O'Riordan has been passed fit to play after a recent injury scare.

Tipperary (SF v Kerry): E Comerford; P Codd, C McDonald, R Kiely; S Kennedy, P Acheson, A Campbell; S O'Brien, G Hannigan; C O'Riordan, P Austin, G Mulhaire; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, B Fox.

Kerry (SF v Tipperary): B Kealy; M O Se, M Griffin, S Enright; J Lyne,P Crowley, K Young' A Maher, B Sheehan; M Geaney, C Cooper, J Buckley; BJ Keane, K Donaghy, P Geaney.

Cork (SF v Clare): K O'Halloran; C Dorman, M Shields, J Loughrey; S Cronin, Brian O'Driscoll, Barry O'Driscoll; A O'Connor, K O'Driscoll; C O'Driscoll, M Collins, P Kerrigan; C O'Neill, B Hurley, D O'Connor.

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