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Colm Cooper rumours are a boost for Kerry

By Declan Bogue

Nobody really knows what is going on within each other's dressing rooms, said Jim McGuinness, and in that respect it has been interesting to note how Kerry have used their spiritual captain, Colm 'Gooch' Cooper.

Out with a cruciate ligament injury sustained on club duty for Dr Crokes last February, Cooper was originally cited for a possible return to duty around November time, should the Crokes emerge out of Kerry for a Munster club campaign.

However, the sight of him in a Kerry jersey at the Mayo semi-finals have raised questions if his recovery is ahead of schedule. For their part, many Kerry figures have left that question hanging in the air, knowing that the possibility of Cooper playing throws up a world of questions for Donegal.

"You never say never. It will depend on the circumstances," answers his former manager, Jack O'Connor, who this weekend is on sideline duty for the minor team as they take on Donegal.

"I'm certain the Gooch will be desperate to play, absolutely desperate to play but realistically he's only done the warm-ups, a bit of kicking, a bit of running and whatever.

"I don't think he has done any contact stuff, so unless he does full on contact before the final then, no, it wouldn't be a runner at all," the Dromid man reflected.

He also added that the presence of Cooper could only be a plus.

"Gooch is a very positive guy, he's been inside with the squad, he's been around the place and it's a great support to the management that he's around the place.

"Gooch is a great thinker of the game, he's very clever and he would be having a quiet word in peoples' ears. He would be a great guy to hop something off, so he'd be a very positive influence around the place."

It was O'Connor, remember, who kick-started Kieran Donaghy's career in 2006, converting him from an unconvincing basketballer who dabbled in life as a Kerry midfielder to one of the most feared full-forwards ever with his incredible size and hands.

By that season's end he had won his first All-Ireland and the Player of the Year. He has struggled in recent times, but after his devastating emergence for the Mayo series, he is foremost in Donegal minds.

"He's still a very awkward person to handle," O'Connor reminds us.

"Donegal in 2012 for example, he got the goal there that brought us into it near the very end. He's certainly given Kerry another dimension. Kerry's forwards were lively but small. He's just another option. It's important that you've more than one way of playing."

If Kerry are to break the Donegal defence down, Cooper and Donaghy could be required. Watch this space.

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