Eamonn Fitzmaurice says Kerry will drive on without Colm Cooper

Manager doesn’t think injury occurring early in the season has softened the blow to the team

 Colm Cooper leave the field after injuring his knee in the All-Ireland club semi-final against Castlebar Mitchels.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Colm Cooper leave the field after injuring his knee in the All-Ireland club semi-final against Castlebar Mitchels. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 01:00

Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice expressed his disappointment at the loss of Colm Cooper but was pleased that the forward’s knee operation on Friday had gone well and he expects that after successful rehab that Kerry’s talisman will be back next season

“It’s great for Colm to have the operation under his belt and he is on the road to recovery now. It’s a long road, and it can be a lonely road at times, but I mean the hallmark of Colm down the years has been his mental strength, so he will be fine, he will be fine in time.

“Naturally it was a huge disappointment for all of us, but particularly for Colm himself. You can be talking about the team, but when a player is captain it’s a big blow for that player personally. Colm will be fine, Colm will do his rehab, he will be back, and we will drive on in the meantime”

Asked if the fact that Cooper’s injury happened so early in the year softens the blow in any way, Fitzmaurice was doubtful.

“I don’t think there is ever a good time for an injury as serious as the one Colm suffered. Of course, it gives us a chance to try out things and to try different game plans or whatever earlier than if the injury happened during the heat of Championship, but we tend to do that anyway in the league.

“I don’t think that is going to change too much because I like to experiment in the league and try different things so that will be the same.”

Injury blow
Despite the injury blow training for Kerry has continued well as the team is used to dealing with injuries.

“It is a big blow but there is nothing like results to pick up a group, because if you win a game you just move on,” said Fitzmaurice.

“But football is a cold and ruthless business and we have all experienced injuries. The team will not hang around for you until you recover so we have just have to move on, we have to try and improve, and of course Colm’s presence is a loss because of what he brings to the team, both on the field and off the field, but other fellows will have to step up and that is the way sport works, and we will be looking for other fellows to step up,” said Fitzmaurice.

Meanwhile, GAA president Liam O’Neill has admitted that playing the inter-provincial football and hurling finals at this time of year is wrong and they will have to be moved to later in the season to have any chance of survival.

O’Neill said he was going to give it another go in his final year as president to find a slot that will work.

He was present in Tuam Stadium on Sunday when a crowd of about 600 witnessed Connacht winning their first title in 45 years, and the province will be bidding for a double this weekend when they take on Leinster in Croke Park on Saturday evening prior to the national football league game between Dublin and Cork.

“I think at some stage we’re going to have to find a slot maybe in the close season, bite the bullet on that, use it as a kind of end-of-season exhibition series, pick a town, have semi-finals and final over one weekend and see can we promote it.

Disheartening
“But we’ve made so many attempts at this stage it’s disheartening. I know there are people who love the competition, but we need to do something different. If we keep the same thing the same result is going to happen.”

O’Neill said that the decision to run the competition at this time of year was incorrect, given provincial January competitions, the start of the league and the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup tournaments.

“The CCC took that decision last year so our hands were tied by it, but I think this time of the year is just not suitable; we have to admit we’ve made a bad call on that.We’ve made a mistake and we should go to the end of the year, have it as an end-of-season celebration of football. If the four provincial teams pick their best 24 players then we should have the best players in Ireland on display.”

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