Very few people achieve the status of legend midway through their careers, whatever the nature of those careers. But it’s fair to say that Colm Cooper, now officially retired at the age of 33 from inter-county football, has been firmly ensconced on that pedestal for quite some time.
As news of his retirement emerged throughout the morning, the list of GAA greats from years past queueing up to pay homage to a man justifiably regarded as Gaelic football’s Lionel Messi was long and impressive.
On Today with Sean O’Rourke, another Kerry legend, Jack O’Shea, joined Derryman and pundit, Joe Brolly, to give their own assessments. Joe Brolly, as delicate and understated as ever, was glowing.
‘He was almost like a computer animated footballer. His vision, his ability. He could deliver a 50 yard pass as though it was a butler bringing a ball to this man on a silver platter.’
According to Joe, there are certain skills that are just impossible to coach, and they came naturally to the man known as the Gooch. “I’m very active in underage football,” he went on, “And if a player like that were to come along, you would die happy.”
‘Poets should write poems about him. His football was very special, and something that anybody who saw it, particularly in his prime, will treasure.’
Jack O’Shea, regarded by many as the greatest player of his own generation, summed him up as follows.
‘Everything that is good about the Gaelic football is Gooch Cooper.’
Joe also made the point that it was wonderful to see the Gooch before Donegal introduced what became known as the ‘blanket defence’ under the stewardship of Jim McGuinness, a tactic that strangled the flair of many a creatively brilliant opposition player.
‘For me, the great glory would be in the first six or seven years in Kerry colours, before the spread of, as I described it, the spread of football and myxomatosis from Donegal.’
To listen to the full interview, click here.
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