Cooper, then 21, was hurt by a Tyrone player in the first half of the decider, shortly after he had set up Ó Cinnéide’s goal. His marker Ryan McMenamin denied he was to blame.
Speaking on his Laochra Gael programme on TG4 this evening, Ó Cinnéide says Kerry were too passive in reacting to the incident.
“Maybe we should have started a fight. In fact, we definitely should have, because there’s no doubt that the Gooch did not get fair play. I remember taking the diplomatic approach and speaking to the umpires.
"I said to the umpire, ‘You saw what happened. Aren’t you going to say anything?’ He let on he saw nothing.”
Ó Cinnéide’s club and county teammate Tomás Ó Sé agrees Kerry should have shown they weren’t going to accept such treatment.
“I think that day we should have sent out a message. It was a mistake not to do so.”
In a fascinating half-hour, it’s evident regrets are what stay with Ó Cinnéide the most.
He doesn’t look back on his first senior All-Ireland final with much delight, having underperformed in Kerry’s victory over Mayo in 1997.
“I remember I had a bad game. I remember not sleeping a wink the night before and I swore to myself that it would never happen again, and it didn’t. My preparation was atrocious.
"I was delighted to win the All-Ireland but I was devastated by my own performance. I didn’t like having a bad game on the big day. It was eating away at you inside that you didn’t play well.”
Ó Sé recalled: “When the final whistle went against Mayo, I was on the bench and he’d just come off and he was praying beside me on the bench. It was that important. I thought he’d lost it.”
Ó Cinnéide injured himself just days before An Ghaeltacht’s only All-Ireland SFC final appearance in losing to Caltra in 2004.
“St Patrick’s Day fell on a Wednesday that year. I put my back out on Sunday picking a newspaper off the floor. I had quite a few injections and drugs to try and remedy it but I played away and once you cross the white line, there are no excuses and rightly so. I didn’t play well.
"Enda Meehan was marking me. Even if I were in top form, it might be the same story.”
The 2004 All-Ireland winning captain also recalls the drawn 2000 final against Galway when he had to black out his boots.
“The Kerry team had some contract with Adidas. I never liked Adidas. I always preferred Puma Kings. I had to ask the county board for permission to wear Puma Kings. They said I could wear them but I had to black them.”
Laochra Gael — Dara Ó Cinnéide, TG4, 9.30pm tonight