Charlie McGeever defends Gooch gala bash

Clonmel Commercials manager Charlie McGeever has leapt to the defence of Dr. Crokes and Kerry superstar Colm Cooper, who held his controversial testimonial event in Dublin last night.
Charlie McGeever defends Gooch  gala bash

McGeever, whose Commercials side welcome Crokes to Clonmel tomorrow insists that Cooper is entitled to and deserving of “anything he can get” from the dinner that was expected to attract 500 guests.

McGeever, the former Finn Harps soccer boss, said that his view on the issue is “straightforward.”

And he explained: “Colm Cooper, in some people’s estimation, is the best Gaelic Footballer of all time. I wouldn’t know if I’d go that far in saying that but he’s certainly up there. He deserves anything he gets, he’s been an unbelievable player and if the GAA have a problem with it, or have some way of dealing with it, let them deal with it.

“(But) for what he’s given to the GAA, no more than many other players who’ve come out with very little, I wouldn’t begrudge him one minute or one penny in relation to that. A lot of material has been said about it, I wouldn’t agree with it (opposition to the testimonial). The problem the GAA have, at HQ, is that this might be the first of many but, in essence, the man has given his whole life to the GAA, for very little, I’m sure, back in return. He’s entitled to what he can get.”

Cooper, who didn’t start in last Sunday’s Kingdom decider against South Kerry, is the headline act heading for Clonmel, as the last two provincial champions go head to head at the quarter-final stage.

They met in the Munster series in 2012, when Crokes won by 1-14 to 0-6 on home soil.

And McGeever recalled: “I was actually present the last time, and that was an exceptionally young (Commercials) side.

“Michael Quinlivan and Colman Kennedy were missing on the day. The lads put up a good show but their experience told in the end, which was the difference. Both teams are in a different place now.”

Crokes are raging hot favourites and Commercials will have to perform arguably to the levels that almost saw them slay Ballyboden St Enda’s in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final.

And McGeever noted that Crokes can “play it any way you want it.”

They started off trying to blast South Kerry out of the water and could have, they were unlucky not to score a couple of goals and that would have been the end of that.

“South Kerry held in and scored a fairly fortuitous goal in the middle of the first half that kept them in it.

“The other side of it was that after half-time, when they (Crokes) didn’t have as much possession, they had to dig in.

“And when (Johnny) Buckley was sent off, there was more digging in to be done, and they adjusted very well to it.

“We saw a lot of sides to Crokes, not just the nice, ball-playing side which all good Kerry teams have. People have a perception that they’re a young side but they’re actually a very experienced bunch of players, with a mixture of some good, young players in there.

“That’s what you want, what wins you All-Irelands, that mix of experience, youth, skill and ability.”

But McGeever and Commercials are quietly confident of springing a surprise.

Two years ago, they were crowned Munster champions for the very first time and the Munster terrain is not unfamiliar.

McGeever added: “It’s not often you get a home match in the Munster championship and not often you get a home match against the All-Ireland champions.

“We were fortunate that the last time we were in this situation, we got a home quarter-final and a home semi.

“Currently it’s a home quarter-final and whoever progresses has a home semi.

“You could be playing for years in Munster and not get a home draw. It’s a big day for the club and the town.”

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