Cooper: We’ll find top form yet

Yesterday, for the third Monday in succession, Colm Cooper found himself surrounded by the media.

Lucozade Sport, Opel and Eircom... they all want a piece of the man, and that’s failing to mention his boot sponsors adidas and the promotional work he does with his employers AIB.

Tipperary corner-back Ciarán McDonald got plenty of him, too, in Thurles on Sunday.

It might only have been his third start of the year in a Kerry jersey but the Dr Crokes man admitted: “A couple of things didn’t go my way... hopefully I can start finding some form sooner rather than later.”

He doesn’t shy away from the matter at heart following their edgy win over a team now consigned to Division 4.

Why were Kerry so flat? Complacency? Minds distracted by the prospects of a battle royale by the Lee on Jun 10?

Cooper doesn’t rule it out.

“The whole country is saying Kerry-Cork, what date is it on? Does that get inside your head? Possibly, but we wanted to start off in good form because you want form going in against a team like Cork and we certainly weren’t at 100%.

“Look, we’ll iron out the problems. This has happened in the past and we’ve been able to iron them out.”

According to Cooper, manager Jack O’Connor wasn’t too upset by his team’s performance.

“Jack was very cool about it. There was no ranting or raving. We’ve been in this position before where in first round games we mightn’t have set the world on fire but we’ve come good. He was relaxed enough about it.

“He’ll be critical of some areas where we didn’t go so well but he’s level-headed too from the point of view of, ‘Look, we got a battle against Tipperary — would we have been better off coming out of there winning by 15 or 20 points, as some people forecasted?’

“I think he can be happy enough deep down that we got a battle. He’s level-headed enough to know it was the first round of the Championship, it’s six weeks since we played a match. You’re not going at full pelt.”

Cooper put Tipperary’s supremacy around the middle as the reason for Kerry’s difficulties.

He suggested Peter Creedon’s men were in a no-lose situation and threw everything at Kerry “with abandonment”.

“We struggled to get our hands on the ball and were a little hasty in our decision-making but they are things that can happen when you haven’t had a game for six weeks.”

He doesn’t need to say a repeat display would not only be acceptable but feasted upon by Cork on their home patch next month.

“We certainly want to go through the front door and there won’t be any quarter given between the sides in Páirc Uí Chaoimh the next day. It’s a right battle.

“Cork have shown that if you lose you can still go through the back-door and it’s not the end of the world but I can guarantee you that on Jun 10 both teams will be going hammer and tongs at it.”

At this stage of the season, there are those that doubt whether Kerry and Cork will lay it all on the line on Sunday week.

Cooper argues otherwise. Psychologically, the importance of winning at a stadium which hasn’t been all that kind to them of late in the Championship won’t be overlooked by Kerry.

“We haven’t had too many victories down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I can only remember two that I won down there and that’s what you want to challenge yourself against. You remember days like trying to win down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in front of their home crowd, it’s very difficult to do and Cork would probably say the same about coming to Killarney. That’s where you challenge yourself in football. You want to win in the tougher arenas and there’s probably no tougher spot than going out down there.”


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