Friday 24 November 2017

Cooper ready for difficult Lilies test

Dublin defender Jonny Cooper is hoping to put the shackles on Kildare sharpshooter Paddy Brophy. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Dublin defender Jonny Cooper is hoping to put the shackles on Kildare sharpshooter Paddy Brophy. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Ask Jonny Cooper about only his second championship start against Kildare back in 2013 and he can go into a precise breakdown of what he got wrong early in the match as he conceded a quick-fire 1-1 to his opposite number.

Cooper was detailed to pick up Paddy Brophy that day in Croke Park. Brophy gathers possession near the Hill early on and makes his move. Cooper loses his feet and Brophy sees his chance and rolls one under Stephen Cluxton to give the Lilies a dream start. He got another point off Cooper too.

There was solace for him in that Dublin would recover to win well but the Na Fianna man doesn't recall the day with any fondness.

"Yeah. Got roasted," he replies when asked about that semi-final.

"Obviously I learned a lot from it. I watched it a good few times. My stance leg, I was at a diagonal when I planted my two feet, which I wouldn't do now.

"I'd be a lot more square and solid in my base. But yeah, learned a lot from it. But it was a few years ago so I've learned a lot from a lot of things since then.

"I remember looking back at the time and I remember going straight into the next play. I think it was a good lesson for me going from play to play."

Dublin take on a resurgent Kildare in Croke Park on Sunday in the Leinster final. The Lilies are on the rise after back-to-back promotions as they go into their first provincial final appearance since 2009.

Dismantled

Since they faced off back in 2013, Brophy has been to the AFL and only came back earlier this year. He put in a good performance as the Lilies dismantled Meath in the Leinster semi-final, much better than might have been expected for someone out of the game so long.

And Cooper wants another crack at marking the Celbridge clubman.

"That was my first or second game. I remember it very vividly. I watched it a good few times. I slipped. Obviously there's a lot more to his game than beating me by slipping.

"So if I was or he was playing the next day, I have no doubt I'd be looking forward to having a cut off him."

Despite missing all of the league bar one game with an ankle injury, Cooper was parachuted back into the side by Jim Gavin for the championship opener against Carlow. He admits now that the decision caught him off guard, given how well he felt others were moving.

"I was probably a little bit surprised to be honest (to start against Carlow). The lads, I thought, were going well in various positions and you can chop and change and you can maybe move a few guys. But, yeah, relieved but I had done a good bit of work in fairness. I wasn't sitting idle. I was doing a good bit of work to try and prove myself."

He has long been a favourite of the Dublin manager, going back to when he made him captain for their victorious All-Ireland U-21 campaign in 2010.

There's something about Cooper that Gavin trusts. Apart from his obvious ability, perhaps it is his willingness to play to the edge of the rulebook.

Cooper makes no apologies for that.

"I can probably only speak for myself but I find going to the line or going as close to the line without overstepping it is something that's important for me in terms of me performing and competing against the best of the best.

"I think it's important to get to the line. Obviously there's cases where you can overstep it or whatever happens in a game, a rush of blood or whatever else. I think it's important to get there but obviously overstepping it, there's ramifications there."

He'll be expected to be in the team that runs out on Croke Park this weekend. Cooper is yet to lose a game in the Leinster Championship in his Dublin career but he reckons Kildare have the tools to test that record.

"I think there seems to be a good bit of expectation amongst themselves. It seems like they have a team and a manager and coach that put a lot into to them.

"(They have) a lot of good individuals, particularly from my end - a lot of good individuals who are particularly dangerous. I've marked a couple of them.

"So yeah, I'm looking forward to it. (They have a) very good offence. Very good from the platform in the middle. They have threats in a lot of places."

 

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