Colm Cooper not sure if he would make the grade if only starting out on his career now
Kerry star feels skills of the game need to be safeguarded
Criticism passes, talent remains. They said that about the great artists. Although now, the way Gaelic football is going, it could be that talent passes, criticism remains.
Remember Colm Cooper? The skinny Kerry forward better known as the “Gooch”? As scary as it might sound, he has no future in the game, or at least wouldn’t make it if he was starting out now, rather than 12 years ago. When it’s Cooper himself who is actually saying this maybe it is time to be afraid, very afraid.
“Yeah, I’m not too sure I would even be able to start out now, to be honest,” he says. “An unwritten requirement at the moment, to be a GAA player, is you’ve got to be 6ft, built like a tank. If you look at most county teams, every guy is lifting big weights, has to be able to run, has to be able to tackle, and he’s taken over from the skilful guy, that’s 5 ft 10in, slight build.
“When I started playing, I was 10 stone, on the nose, going into the 2002 All-Ireland final in Croke Park, which is unheard of now. Okay I was only 18, 19, but if there was a strong wind, I’d have been blown over the bar. I remember Kieran McGeeney hit me a crack of a shoulder, and I knew all about it. If I was starting out again, right now, I might not get the opportunity. I just wouldn’t be able to compete with those guys. Physically anyway.
Over 12 stone
“I’m just over the 12 stone now. It’s a little bit of a better fighting weight. But I am what build I am. I’m never going to be lifting 120kg. I do certain things, feel toned. But would an 18- or 19-year-old, coming in now, who is 5ft 8in, even 5ft 10in, not carrying any weight, but maybe the most skilful guy in the county, would he be carried? I’d have my worries.
“It’s more likely to be 15 of the biggest players in the county. It’s going that way, not in all counties, but it’s a worrying trend, that the more athletic guy is likely to make it than the skilful player. To me that’s not right.”
Cooper justified these comments by admitting he is, for now, still a huge fan of Gaelic football, watches it as often as possible, no matter which counties are playing: yet he understands exactly where Down forward Benny Coulter was coming from when saying, earlier this week, that he wouldn’t have paid in to watch himself play, against Donegal, last Sunday.
“I completely understand where he’s coming from. He’s probably going to be double or triple marked, doesn’t have the licence to go and do things he capable of doing. If that’s the case, you’re saying, ‘why am I here at all?’