Tuesday 24 April 2018

Kerry's Colm Cooper facing race against time

Colm Cooper will
Colm Cooper will "resume playing in due course", but is in a race against time to play again this season Picture: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Kerry are likely to be without Colm 'Gooch' Cooper for their All-Ireland quarter-final in three weeks' time after an MRI scan confirmed that the star forward has damaged shoulder ligaments.

'Gooch' was forced to retire after just 22 minutes in the Kingdom's Munster final win over Tipperary when he shipped a heavy knock and is now in a race against time to play a further part this summer.

The 33-year-old's rehabilitation has already begun and he will "resume playing in due course" but there is no indication as to the extent of the damage which the Dr Crokes attacker has suffered.

And after only recently rediscovering his form after 14 months out due to cruciate ligament damage and a knee fracture, his fitness will be a huge worry for Eamonn Fitzmaurice as he looks to go one better from last year's All-Ireland final defeat.

Mayo boss Stephen Rochford has made three changes including swapping goalkeepers for their qualifier tie with Fermanagh in Castlebar today as David Clarke replaces Robbie Hennelly.

After their surprise Connacht loss to Galway, Mayo face the back door route to Croke Park for the first time in six years but their prospects have been boosted by the return of Diarmuid O'Connor.

Last year's Young Footballer of the Year comes in along with the experienced Seamus O'Shea as Tom Parsons (hamstring) and Jason Gibbons (shoulder) miss out.

Cork also make wholesale changes from their shock defeat to Tipperary, with four new starters against Limerick, including Alan O'Connor at midfield, who reappears having been sidelined since last July's qualifier loss to Kildare.

Noel Galvin, Peter Kelleher and Luke Connolly also get the nod, while captain Iain Corbett comes back in for the Treaty in place of Tommie Childs. Elsewhere, Seanie Johnston returns to the Cavan starting 15 for their clash with Carlow along with Padraig Faulkner, Ciarán Brady and Liam Buchanan.

On the hurling front, Waterford have named an unchanged side for their Munster final meeting with Tipperary in the Gaelic Grounds tomorrow as the influential Darragh Fives is passed fit to play.

There were serious concern surrounding the Tourin man's participation but he retains his place, while reigning champions Tipperary make one enforced change, with Niall O'Meara coming in for the suspended John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer.

In Cork, Kieran Kingston can call on the services of skipper Stephen McDonnell for today's qualifier against Wexford, with the Glen Rovers defender returning alongside Conor O'Sullivan, who impressed when introduced against Dublin last Saturday, while opponents Wexford name the same 15 which put Offaly to the sword last weekend.

2013 All-Ireland champions Clare have also kept the faith with the same side which annihilated Laois as they look to get their title bid back on track against Limerick, who make three changes from their win over Westmeath last Saturday.

Returning to the starting side are All-Star Richie McCarthy and Tom Condon, along with wing-forward Cian Lynch as the suspended Seanie O'Brien, Dan Morrissey and Barry Nash are the players to miss out for the do-or-die all-Munster clash.

Irish Independent

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