Saturday 22 September 2018

No time to look back as Cooper keeps focus

'I got roasted' says Jonny of first championship battle with Lily Brophy

Dublin defender Jonny Cooper in action against Carlow in their Leinster SFC quarter-final in early June. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin defender Jonny Cooper in action against Carlow in their Leinster SFC quarter-final in early June. Photo: Sportsfile

Jonny Cooper's immediate recall of the last time he marked Paddy Brophy sounds a little too self-critical.

"Got roasted," he reckons.

That was 2013 and just Cooper's second championship start with Dublin.

Kieran McGeeney's Kildare started like they not only expected to win, but they had resolved to mow through the middle of the Dublin defence with every early attack.

After six minutes, Cooper lost his balance and slipped.

Jonny at the AIG Insurance launch of their latest travel insurance offering last week. Photo: Sportsfile
Jonny at the AIG Insurance launch of their latest travel insurance offering last week. Photo: Sportsfile

Brophy got in for a goal, followed it up with a point and after eight minutes, Kildare led by 1-2 to no score.

"I remember it very vividly. I watched it a good few times," Cooper confirms now ahead of Sunday's Leinster final wherein there's at least a decent chance he'll mark Brophy again.

"I slipped. Obviously there's a lot more to his game that beating me by slipping.

"So if I was or he was playing the next day, I have no doubt I'd be looking forward to having a cut off him."

Being the modern sporting analytical animal he is, Cooper didn't merely attribute his error to misfortune either.

"My stance leg, I was at a diagonal when I planted my two feet, which I wouldn't do now," he explains.

"I'd be a lot more square and solid in my base. But yeah, learned a lot from it.


"So I learned a lot from it. But it was a few years ago so I've learned a lot from a lot of things since then."

Having breezed through his debut - a 1-22 to 0-9 victory over Westmeath - largely untroubled in the previous round, this was the first hardship Cooper had known in a Dublin senior jersey.

Yet Brophy's scoring for the day ended with that eighth minute point and Dublin went on to win by 16.

All's well…

"I remember looking back at the game at the time," the Na Fianna man explains now.

"I remember going straight into the next play. I think it was a good lesson for me going from play to play.

"Obviously it was my mistake and the team conceded a goal because of me.

"But I think I remember I went to the other side of the pitch to receive a kick-out from Stephen (Cluxton), so it was good to get that experience of dropping one thing, no matter what and going on to the next play."

Cooper's two championship matches with Kildare ended in 16 and 19 point victories but he has noticed a change in the landscape of late.

"I think there seems to be a good bit of expectation amongst themselves," he says. "It seems like they have a team and a manager and coach that put a lot into to them.

"A lot of good individuals, particularly from my end - a lot of good individuals who are particularly dangerous. I've marked a couple of them."

Cooper's own season has been less than ideal.

A suspension followed by an ankle injury meant he missed seven of Dublin's eight league games and only returned to fitness when the players were being released to their clubs after the league final.

"I said before I don't get enough time with the club so five weeks in April or May is something that I enjoyed," Cooper insists, noting that now, he feels "very much refreshed.

"That's the way it's been for the year. Instead of maybe hammering the whole time, it's kind of pulling back a little bit and striking when it's most needed.

"This year has been a bit later in terms of the weeks but yeah, I think we're on course. Probably a good bit to go now if we're going to go anywhere but we're on the right track."

Sunday will be Cooper's fifth Leinster final in five years.

And Dublin have enjoyed so much success in the competition of late, it's arguable as to whether they knock much enjoyment out of winning it any more.

"I don't know if I personally look upon those medals - be they Leinster or a previous year's All-Ireland medal - as something that's really up there," Cooper explains.

"I just keep on rolling and keep on going through the framework of it all.

"Maybe I should be reflected more on provincial and All-Ireland medals and taking it all in and taking stock of it," he says.

"I don't know if I look at it that way. I can't speak for the rest of the lads. But I don't know if I look at it that way, if I'm honest.

"You get asked this a lot of times: are the provincials still important or is a medal still important in the province when you've won the last couple of years?

"The answer would be 'yes'.

"But," Cooper concludes, "there's obviously a different focus now."

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