Sunday 23 October 2016

Mind over matter for 'Super Cooper'

Defender showed great resolve to bounce back better than ever following knife attack

“It reinforces the need to live each day as it comes and take the opportunities that arise
“It reinforces the need to live each day as it comes and take the opportunities that arise" - Cooper

Never has that contrived expression been more appropriate than in the case of Dublin's Jonny Cooper who has experienced massively contrasting fortunes in the space of the last 12 months.

The Na Fianna clubman suffered his own annus horribilis in 2014 with Dublin relinquishing their hold on the All-Ireland in that bizarre semi-final against Donegal before that loss was put into stark perspective after an attack, on September 20, that left Cooper hospitalised after being the victim of a late-night knife attack on Dorset Street.


"Yeah these things happen, on and off the pitch. Unfortunately, I was involved on and off the pitch. The Dublin GAA was a big shoulder for me to lean on.

"It has been a strange initial part of the last 12 months but once football came round it was business as usual, trying to get back into the team.

"Going forward, if I can help someone else, and if someone can learn from my own misfortunes and mistakes, it's even more important.

"It is what it is. Incidents happen all the time. Maybe because I play for Dublin there was more of a platform, and more light was shed on the incident around the country.

"But the support that came in from across the country was what I needed and got me through a tough period," he said.

As horrific as the incident was, Cooper has recovered remarkably well in returning to an environment that he feels comfortable in.

Never a man to feel too sorry for himself, Cooper feels fortunate to have come through the other side and it was possibly somewhat beneficial to him in hindsight in relation to both his personal and sporting lives in how he transformed such a negative into a positive.

"I'm sure people go through a lot more torturous things, illnesses and whatever, and I am incredibly lucky to have a lot of opportunities playing with Dublin, playing at Croke Park, representing my club and my family.

"The positives always outweigh the negatives for me. People go through a lot more than I have. I am always conscious of that. I was fine, that's the main thing.

"If anything, it reminds me that you can't take anything for granted and if I get an opportunity with Dublin or a personal opportunity in life I can't take anything for granted.

"Maybe it was up to that incident. It reinforces the need to live each day as it comes and take the opportunities that come.


"Initially, one of the things that enters your head is will you be able to put on a pair of boots again and I was quite lucky in that sense that I was able to do that.

"Everything I got was superficial so I was extremely lucky from that point of view. There were no doubts once they told me I was fine. It was something more to drive me on than anything else," said Cooper.

That drive has been a feature of Cooper's and Dublin's displays this year after the castigation that they received following their 2014 defeat to Donegal..

Criticism on both a personal and collective level was Dublin's lot last year but the remarkable reversal of fortunes is testimony to the motivational qualities and focus inherent in the panel.

"After the way it finished up in 2014, it (this season) was the highest we could have gone," said Cooper. "It has been a bit of a journey for me personally. Winning the All-Ireland is as good as it's going to get for any one of us, and as a team.

"And on a personal level getting to play, getting a jersey, is the other goal. And both were achieved for me.

"I think there was a more conscious effort from the defensive group this year. There wasn't much change. It was just implemented that bit more cleaner and efficiently.

"We had a focus all year, after 2014, and you have to learn from your mistakes. It was satisfying."

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