Writing in his new autobiography, Gooch, Colm Cooper has been strongly critical of the underhand tactics and ‘sledging’ employed by Kerry’s bitter rivals Tyrone during his career and names the player who struck him in the eye during the 2005 All-Ireland final.
Tyrone beat Kerry in that final and while Cooper accepts Mickey Harte’s men deserved their victory, he was unimpressed with their win-at-all-costs attitude.
“Tyrone were different. They were the first team I came up against who seemed to regard trash-talk as being just as fundamental to the game as tackling. And they were relentless in ‘05. Right from the throw-in, a constant commentary.
“Ryan McMenamin would be my marker in that year’s All-Ireland final and ‘Ricey’ almost prided himself on being able to wind a forward up.
“He’d hit you the odd dig into the back too and try to annoy you with these little pinches, hoping you might throw an elbow back and get the line.
“Tyrone were pushing the boundaries that year — maybe overstepping them at times — and who could really blame them?
“Bottom line, if winning demanded Tyrone be nasty, they were more than willing to be that.”
“They were testing you in every single way,” Gooch adds.
“But the big issue for me was that they were allowed to do it. That’s the bit I really hated it, the stuff that would go unpunished.”
“Winning by hook or by crook. Horrible.”
In extracts from the book published in today’s Irish Independent, Cooper also describes the first-half incident in that game that resulted in him briefly losing the sight in one of his eyes.
“I was making a run in around the penalty spot, just trying to lose my man.
“And Tyrone’s goalie, Pascal McConnell, kept charging out towards me, as if trying to block my run. On this one occasion, his glove made contact with my face.
“I got this horrible sensation of grit in my eye and immediately went down. And all around me became a symphony directed towards the referee Mick Monahan.
“Diving ref, diving, diving, diving.
“Monahan comes over to me and says ‘whatever you do, don’t retaliate’,” Cooper continues.
“Rightly or wrongly, I reckon I’ve just been taken out of the game, possibly in a premeditated move, and the ref’s only answer is to tell me not to hit back.”