Colm Cooper is looking forward to having “tunnel vision with Crokes” in 2018 as the Kerry county senior champions seek another title, writes Michael Moynihan.
The Kerry icon dismissed any suggestions he might retire after Crokes’ disappointing loss last Sunday to Nemo Rangers in the Munster club final.
“I’m still enjoying it, it’s still fun, I’m still in reasonable shape and I still get a kick out of it — and I still get disappointed when we lose. All those emotions are still there.
“Did I take it badly on Sunday? Ah yeah. One, you’re disappointed when you don’t perform personally, and two, when the team doesn’t perform anywhere near the level needed.
“Nothing had suggested to us that we’d hit a day like Sunday. Our form had been pretty solid, but maybe the 23 months on the road caught up with us.
“And we also met a really good Nemo team who played really, really well. I’d say if you asked most of those guys on Monday if that was the best they’d played all year, they’d probably say ‘yes’.
“We can’t have any complaints. Looking back now they could have been further ahead at the end of the first half, so on reflection, going home with the lads we felt we’d lost to the better team.
“But that doesn’t take away from an amazing 23 months. The journey finishes, and that’s it.”
Cooper was the object of some sharp media criticism after Crokes’ defeat.
“It’s dramatic, but that’s the media. You see it all the time - the Irish soccer team is brilliant one minute, then they lose to Denmark and they’re the worst Irish team ever.
“I’m certainly not the only player in Ireland to have a bad game in a county final or Munster final, or a divisional final. I’m not the only player to miss a free — or two frees — but if some people want to pick holes in that, that’s their issue.
“My issue is that I didn’t play well yesterday along with a lot of my teammates. That’s the most disappointing thing for me — I didn’t play up to form. That’s sport, but if people want to pick holes and say I should retire because I didn’t play well - that’s silly.” The Kerry icon said 2017 had been a “whirlwind” year: “Up to April I didn’t know if I was going to go back with Kerry, that was in my mind.
“Then I was into working for the Irish Examiner and RTÉ, and working on my book. I was busier than I expected to be and I didn’t appreciate all the time that goes into those things. I underestimated that a little bit.
“Did it take from my football? I don’t think so. Maybe a little, but I played well in the county championship. If I wound the clock back there was probably too much going on in that seven to nine months.
“I’m looking forward to next year and having tunnel vision with Crokes and competing for honours again. Though I’m looking forward to recharge in the break over Christmas, too.”
He’s enjoyed the pundit’s seat this year, even if it has taken some getting used to.
“It was difficult because I was in the county fold up to a few months ago, but if you don’t call it straight people see through you, I found that out quick enough.
“I’ve been on both sides. I’ve gotten the plaudits and taken the criticism, there was plenty of that yesterday, so I see both sides. What you’re trying to do for the viewer or the reader is to look at a match through my eyes.
“It was more time-consuming than I’d have thought, but if you want to do it properly you have to put in that time. You think it’s only talking about a match, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
“You’ve to make it interesting and to call it as you see it. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s still raw, still fresh — some former players I’ve spoken to have said it takes two or three years to get comfortable with not playing anymore.
“I was watching Kerry-Mayo and thinking, ‘could I do something to help the lads’. And the answer then was ‘no’, because my body can’t do the volume of training intercounty players do, but year one of retirement, you think maybe
. . . but that’s gone.”
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner