Gooch happy to be in exalted All Star company

It’s a debate that may be had in a Kerry pub or two over the long winter ahead — who would be the better player, Pat Spillane or Colm Cooper?

Spillane tips the balance in All-Ireland terms with eight medals, double that of Cooper who, at 30, is highly unlikely to make up that ground.

All Star awards, which reflect individual excellence, are a different matter, however, and, since the weekend, Cooper has closed in to within one of Spillane’s record haul of nine.

Only a fool would bet against Cooper equalling that figure and surpassing it before his time with Kerry is done, placing him at the head of football’s roll of honour.

“It feels a bit strange to be in the same neck of the woods as Pat because of what he’s won in the game and the whole lot,” said Cooper. “He mightn’t be too happy that I’m catching up to him.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever win one more. I don’t know how long more I’ll be playing football. So whether I catch him or not, eight is something I’m delighted with.

“I wouldn’t have dreamt I’d have got that much starting off 12 years ago. To be even mentioned in the same bracket as Pat is a bit strange but we’ll see.”

Cooper was a central figure at the Opel-sponsored All Stars ceremony last Friday evening at Croke Park, a new venue for the annual event which has been given an overhaul.

Despite reports of guests, including All Star-nominated hurling players, being left waiting for food and others only being served fast food, Cooper said he enjoyed the occasion.

“The feeling I got is that players felt the night was very drawn out when there was a sit-down meal so maybe that’s why they changed it. I enjoyed the night but obviously some people didn’t.”


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