Wednesday 22 November 2017

Gooch will be remembered long after Brolly's forgotten

Colm Cooper
Colm Cooper


Before last weekend's game between Kerry and Tyrone Joe Brolly had a right cut off the Kerry team, and in particular Colm Cooper, calling him a choker. It made for maddening reading as his criticisms were sensationalist and lacked substance.

Kerry unsurprisingly beat Tyrone handy and Cooper played a blinder, scoring four points from play and one from a free. Overall, he gave a delightful performance.

Cooper is one of the greatest players to grace a Gaelic football field and he'll be remembered long after Joe Brolly has been forgotten. He'd be doing everybody a favour, especially his own county, if he ran the rule over the Derry team to see what they're at.

And as the week rolled on, Cooper came under fire again, this time both himself and Declan O'Sullivan were at the end of a tirade from Brian McGuigan. The Tyrone player, who was handed a red card in Fitzgerald Stadium, said that "the two boys had opinions of themselves and gave the impression that they looked down on you". And he also said that O'Sullivan sniggered and smiled when he was sent off.

I'd hate to think any Kerry footballer would have that kind of streak in them and from coaching both Cooper and O'Sullivan in the past, it's not their style. I'm surprised that McGuigan slung mud like that, I've a lot of respect for the McGuigan family, they wear their hearts on their sleeves when playing and are exemplary footballers. It's unfortunate that Brian stooped so low.

I was in Tubbercurry, Sligo last Friday for a function and the team that won the Connacht title in 1975 were in attendance. I spent a good bit of the night with some of the players from that team including Michael Kearns, John Brennan and Barnes Murphy. From talking to players of their calibre, it struck me how little players there are in the modern game who can carry a team to a victory singlehandedly. Kearns could do it, he'd kick six or seven points for his county week in, week out.

He was a big influential player and it was just unfortunate that when Sligo did win a Connacht title, Kearns had his best football played even though he was still contributing a great deal. I know there are plenty of place-kickers in today's game who can knock over five or six points, but the majority of them can contribute little else.

The type of players I'm talking about are ones like Mick O'Connell, who carried the Kerry team to many big wins, and Brian Mullins is another player. He's probably one of the most respected footballers in the country, he'd an ability to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, change a game and carry his team to a win.

Larry Tompkins is another one of these players; he played the second half of an All-Ireland final against Meath with a torn cruciate, he dug deep and was a massive presence on the field.

I remember the Munster final of 1996 when Kerry beat Cork by three points to win back the title from them, it was a victory driven by Maurice Fitzgerald. His display in the last 15 minutes was sensational and I'll be pushed to remember a more honest performance since then. His general play was superb and the free he kicked from the middle of the field was legendary. It's a pity we probably won't see the likes of it again.

Matt Connor fits this mould too, the more difficult the challenge the better he was; these type of players can do it all, play anywhere in the park full-back, full-forward, wherever they're needed. You don't see that anymore.

When I was a young boy, you could walk into a club game in Kerry and the county players would stick out, they had a swagger about them, a commanding presence.

Those days seem to be gone and it's the game's loss.

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