Sunday 17 November 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Football legend Colm Cooper to call time on stellar Kingdom career


Kerry's Colm Cooper. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kerry's Colm Cooper. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kerry's Colm Cooper is set to call time on one of the greatest ever Gaelic football careers.

Less than three weeks after his All-Ireland club triumph with Dr Crokes on St Patrick's Day, 'Gooch' looks set to bring the curtain down on a career that lit up Croke Park, Fitzgerald Stadium and just about every other venue he adorned.

Confirmation of Cooper's much-anticipated decision is expected to come later today.

His place in Gaelic football history was already long assured but a debate about where exactly that place is will be re-ignited in the coming days.

He is regarded by many as the greatest player of the modern age, with a range of skills, vision and creativity that few, if any, could match.

Making his Championship debut in 2002 as a 19-year-old, he was the consummate finisher who later became the conductor of the Kingdom orchestra as his career moved on.

Cooper played in nine All-Ireland finals, winning four in 2004, '06, '07 and '09.

There was bitter disappointment too, notably when he captained Kerry to defeat in the 2011 All-Ireland final, having scored an early goal with a typically cold-blooded finish.

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The 33-year-old overcame a serious knee injury - ruptured cruciate ligament and fractured knee-cap - in a 2014 All-Ireland club semi-final against Castlebar Mitchels, and missed most of that summer campaign that ended with All-Ireland final victory over Donegal. But he made it back to play his part in the 2015 Championship.

Prior to that, he had been involved in 76 consecutive Championship games for Kerry.

He was top or joint-top scorer in six of the nine All-Ireland finals he played.

He accumulated 4-34 from those nine finals but was held scoreless in his last one against Dublin in 2015, the only Championship game in Croke Park that he drew a blank in.

He finished a 14th season with Kerry with another defeat to Dublin in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final, his 85th Championship game, but spent the winter and spring driving his Killarney-based club to a first All-Ireland title in 25 years after so many near-misses.

Cooper met with Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, who holds a League final press briefing this evening, in the week after the club success to discuss his future plans.

Irish Independent

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