Such is the glut of attacking options available to Paidi O Sé that ten forwards will be vying for six starting positions on the first weekend in August at Croke Park.
Despite their prolific form last season, Kerry’s lethal corner-forwards Cooper and Mike Frank Russell were both replaced in Sunday’s provincial final victory over Limerick - and both their replacements, John Crowley and Aodhan MacGearailt, made scoring contributions.
Admitted Cooper: “One of the real motivations for the starting fifteen is to look at the bench and see what’s available. We have Allstars there who would probably walk onto most county teams in the country, so no-one can take anything for granted.”
Cooper claimed a first half point in Kerry’s 1-11 to 0-9 win, but was well held by Mark O’Riordan thereafter, even if Seamus Scanlon’s second half dismissal limited Kerry’s possession.
“Last year, I was the new guy on the block, and teams didn’t know much about me but obviously, the surprise element is not there this year and I know I’m going to be marked a lot tighter.
“However one look over at the bench is all the motivation you need to keep your form up.”
Cooper accepted that Kerry had to scrap for their 68th Munster title once reduced to fourteen men, but again pointed to the strength in depth as an advantage. “Limerick were coming at us in droves in the last quarter, but once you have run your legs off, there’s always someone who can come in and do just as good a job.”
The Dr Crokes U21 said he was expecting the frenetic opening to the game. “We knew that Limerick would come out at 100 miles per hour at the start, but the fact that they didn’t capitalise on their early chances meant that we were able to hang in there with a couple of scores.
“We’re nowhere near the finished article at this stage. We need to up the consistency. This is the real Championship from here on in - there’s no second chances now.”