Colm Cooper returns to Kerry starting line-up for Tipperary
Gifted forward to make first start for county since 2013 All-Ireland semi-final after knee injury
Colm Cooper returns to the Kerry starting XV for the first time since the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Finally, after 16 months not without a few set backs, Kerry’s Colm Cooper returns from a ruptured cruciate and fractured kneecap. The eight time All Star is named at centre forward by manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice for Sunday’s Munster football semi-final against Tipperary in Thurles.
It will be Cooper’s 77th championship outing but first since his astonishing performance in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.
That’s one of eight changes Fitzmaurice has made to the side that unexpectedly captured Sam Maguire last September.
Other changes see current footballer of the year James O’Donoghue held in reserve as Barry John Keane starts at corner forward. The 24-year-old has played five competitive matches for his club Legion since rehabilitating last November’s shoulder surgery. He’s expected to be introduced at some point.
Cooper’s return see Donnchadh Walsh also in reserve but injuries to current All Stars Paul Murphy and midfielder David Moran (both shoulders) has forced Fitzmaurice’s hand in defence and midfield with Jonathan Lyne at wing back while Bryan Sheehan starts in midfield alongside Anthony Maher.
Paul Galvin (quad) was not considered for selection while Kieran O’Leary (achilles) has been ruled out for the season.
Tommy Walsh, after six largely injury cursed years playing professionally in Australia, makes the panel but he’s yet to reach the standard that saw him named young footballer of the year in 2008.
Aidan O’Mahony, who started the All-Ireland final at full back, makes way for Mark Griffin but, along with Darran O’Sullivan, he looks a valuable alternative.
Tipperary manager Peter Creedon has been tasked with re-integrating the under-21 players who lost to Tyrone in a tempestuous All-Ireland final on May 2nd. Colin O’Riordan, crucially, is fit to play despite a hip problem that will eventually require corrective surgery.
Cork, meanwhile, are without Eoin Cadogan, who sustained an ankle injury in training last Tuesday, for Sunday’s other Munster semi-final against Clare. Alan O’Connor returns to the midfield while Paul Kerrigan is at wing forward.
Clare manager Colm Collins must plan without his All Star hurling son Podge (cruciate) as an “injury crisis” threatens to decimate his panel ahead the trip to Páirc Uí Rinn. Some hope remains for Cathal McInerney (quad) and Rory Donnelly (back) to feature.
TIPPERARY (SF v Kerry, Semple Stadium, Sunday, 3.30pm): E Comerford; P Codd (capt), C McDonald, R Kiely; S Kennedy, P Acheson, A Campbell; S O’Brien, G Hannigan; C O’Riordan, P Austin, G Mulhaire; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, B Fox.
KERRY (SFC v Tipperary): B Kealy; M Ó Sé, M Griffin, S Enright; J Lyne, P Crowley, K Young; A Maher, B Sheehan; M Geaney, C Cooper, J Buckley; P Geaney, K Donaghy, BJ Keane.
Subs: B Kelly, J O’Donoghue, S O’Brien, A O’Mahony, D O’Sullivan, F Fitzgerald, T Walsh, A Fitzgerald, D Walsh, J Sherwood, P Kilkenny.
CORK (SFC v Clare): K O’Halloran; C Dorman, M Shields (capt), J Loughrey; S Cronin, Brian O’Driscoll, Barry O’Driscoll; A O’Connor, K O’Driscoll; C O’Driscoll, M Collins, P Kerrigan; C O’Neill, B Hurley, D O’Connor.