Cooper regrets missing Test series but Dr Crokes came before country
Colm Cooper (right) could not commit to the this year’s International Rules series against Australia because of his club commitments with Dr Crokes. Photograph: Neil Danton/Inpho
The Aussies are in town, and if today’s practice session in Croke Park ahead of Saturday’s opening International Rules Test in Cavan is partly about discussing the opposition then it may come as some relief that one player they won’t have to worry about is Colm “Gooch” Cooper, or any of his fellow Kerry footballers.
Cooper was in Croke Park himself yesterday, named as the Footballer of the Month for September for his dazzling performance in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin: he would have liked to played this year, given the suddenly more open, if not skilful, nature of the hybrid game, but club commitments ruled that out.
Cooper was torn between club and country, and with Dr Crokes chasing a fourth successful Kerry football title this Sunday, he felt it unfair to juggle his commitments.
Kieran Donaghy, who will play for Austin Stacks on Sunday, and Marc Ó Sé, were in a similar position, while Darran O’Sullivan undergoes a hip operation in Britain this week.
“I actually spoke with Paul Earley a good few weeks ago, and I was genuinely thinking about playing,” said Cooper. “but I basically couldn’t give a commitment because of the club.
“To be fair, I have been away from them for most of the year, so when Kerry are finished, I have to give them first commitment. That’s my viewpoint and I think that’s the same for the rest of the Kerry players. I don’t think in any way was it the Kerry guys snubbing it.”
Earley has finalised his 23-man panel for Saturday’s opening game, with Donegal’s Michael Murphy team captain even though he’ll be playing a county final with his club Glenswilly less than 24 hours later.
Terrace tickets are still available at €15 each.