Dublin’s Jonny Cooper says alleged biting incident ‘blown out of proportion’
Corner back says boss Jim Gavin won’t tolerate indiscipline and points to the fact the team has yet to receive a black card
Dublin’s Jonny Cooper at the Mansion House for the All-Ireland Series launch: “A lot of emphasis would be placed on discipline, on and off the pitch. Jim [Gavin] makes that very clear . . ” Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Dublin defender Jonny Cooper reckons the alleged biting affair that emerged after Sunday’s Leinster football final at Croke Park was “blown out of proportion” – and he wasn’t even aware of it until long after the game finished.
With the GAA deciding against any further investigation due to lack of sufficient evidence, despite Meath manager Mick O’Dowd being adamant that one of his players, Mickey Burke, was bitten on the finger towards the end of Dublin’s 16-point victory, Cooper has also expressed his surprise at both the nature and reaction to the alleged incident.
“I was surprised by the way it all came about,” he says, “and the way it materialised in the press. Now, all of a sudden it is gone, and I think it has gone in the right direction, the way it should have gone.
“We can only control what we do, and whatever happens outside is something the county board and the management team control. It’s all blown over now and it’s gone, and we’re all just looking at the next game.”
The incidentPart of the surprise surrounding the incident is that, in the run-up to the game, O’Dowd had suggested whatever happens on the field between Meath and Dublin typically stays on the field, and there’s never any whinging after.
“Dublin and Meath always has that rivalry, and edge, and incidents happen in games,” agrees Cooper. “Sometimes they are merited, and sometimes they are blown out of proportion. And that’s what that was, blown out of proportion.
“In fact the first I actually heard about it was about two hours after the game, back in the hotel, when it was part of the analysis on the TV. But no, certainly not after the game, there was no mention of it.”
Cooper also points to Dublin’s impressive disciplinary record and the fact they’ve yet to receive a black card: “A lot of emphasis would be placed on discipline, on and off the pitch. Jim makes that very clear and it is not within his psyche to have disciplinary issues. I think, as a player, nobody can afford to get a black card and sit on the line for too long because invariably somebody will take your place.”
Indeed Cooper was a late withdrawal from Dublin’s starting line-up, having been originally named at left corner back. Mick Fitzsimons started instead, played exceptionally well and Cooper now admits he’s effectively dropped, and will have to earn his starting place all over again.
“I just got a bit of a soft tissue injury, on my quad muscle, and I unfortunately ran out of time. Jim Gavin, in fairness, gave me all the time possible going into the weekend.
“It’s been 10 days now and they said about 12-14 days so hopefully I’ll be back on the pitch by the weekend.
“But that’s the way it works, and the reality is, Mick Fitzsimons has the jersey now, and deservedly so. And it’s up to me and the other full back line contenders to try and get one.”
Copper describes that competition for places as “dog eat dog”, which is a good thing, as long as everyone is pointing in the right direction.
“We are all feeding into the one channel, of a collective Dublin performance, and all trying to get a starting 15 jersey. The hunger is massive because the competition is massive . . . .
“So it is dog eat dog in there, but everything is picked on merit and if Jim sees someone pushing you’ll get your chance then it’s up to the person in question to prove it to him.”
Dublin’s 16-pt hammering of Meath means they’ll go into the quarter-final on Croke Park on Saturday, August 9th, without having been fully tested for 70 minutes. Cooper was surprised Meath didn’t put up more of a challenge: “We’d prepared for an almighty battle against Meath, based on their performances up to that game and gave them the respect they deserved . . . .”