Monday 16 September 2019

'Jim Gavin has total trust in him' - Why Jonny Cooper and David Clifford will go head-to-head again in replay

David Clifford of Kerry in action against Jonny Cooper of Dublin during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
David Clifford of Kerry in action against Jonny Cooper of Dublin during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

As the countdown to Saturday’s mouth-watering All-Ireland football final replay ticks down, the main talking point still revolves around what most concur was the turning point of the drawn match.

Or more specifically, the match-up involved. The initial controversy over the second yellow issued to Dublin’s Jonny Cooper for his third foul on David Clifford has subsided. We’ve even seen a situation where Ciaran Whelan and Joe Brolly rowed back from their initial Sunday Game analysis to admit David Gough got the decision correct.

But the question now is will we see a repeat of that match-up come Saturday? In essence, will Jim Gavin stick or twist when it comes to that Cooper-Clifford battle?

Speaking on the latest episode of The Throw-In, Independent.ie’s GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy, Irish Independent GAA reporter Donnchadh Boyle and Michael Verney were both adamant that twisting is not in the Dublin boss’ nature.

"I think he 100 per cent will (stick), I don't think he would even cede the psychological ground and say ‘right, our best man-marker, our general in defence isn’t able for that guy so we’re going to move him off him in case he picks up another yellow'," Boyle said.

"There’s no way Jonny Cooper or Jim Gavin are going in thinking like that. You have to remember Cooper’s going into the game and he’s not on a yellow. He can go into it and he has a free shot at Clifford again. Let him go in and maybe take his first yellow and then make the change. Copper would be spitting on his hands for the last two weeks, he can’t wait. He dodged a bullet [by Dublin drawing]."

"Was he even getting that much of a doing?," Boyle continued.

"He was sent off for a foul that I think was more out of character and was bad decision-making on his part rather than him getting toasted. I think it was a penalty but probably four times out of ten it’s not given.

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"I think Copper is absolutely delighted he’s not the man who got sent off to halt the drive-for-five. He’s getting another shot at it and he’s Gavin’s most trusted defender going back to their U21 days when he was captain of that team.

"Gavin absolutely has total trust in him and that was demonstrated when he left him on Clifford after the first yellow, that’s how much he trusts him. Jonny Cooper can’t wait for this."

The same question put to Verney received an equally unequivocal response as he warned against judging a player’s full body of work against one half of football. And he believes the faith that Gavin has in his defender can provide an extra motivation for the Na Fianna man.

"He was Dublin’s best man-marker coming into the game and that doesn't change on one game. So he’s got 35 minutes of an All-Ireland final under his belt and is absolutely seething after the last day in the sense of wanting to prove himself after nearly costing his team dearly," he added.

"If it does happen I can just see him eyeballing Clifford when they throw the ball in as he does with his man. It’s very interesting because if he is moved over to Paul Geaney, he has the potential to do a lot of damage as well.

"Geaney is nearly as dangerous so it’s not an easier task he would be getting."

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