SHOCK: Kerry axe Colm Cooper ahead of Sunday’s Munster final showdown against Cork
All-Ireland champions Kerry has dropped a bombshell by axing Colm Cooper for Sunday’s Munster final showdown against Cork.
It is only the second time in his distinguished career that Cooper – who missed all of last season due to a ruptured cruciate ligament - has been left out of a Kerry team for a championship encounter.
He was previously omitted by ex-boss Jack O’Connor for a breach of discipline in 2009 during Kerry’s run through the All-Ireland qualifiers.
However, his ‘exile’ lasted less than an half an hour as he was sprung from the bench when Kerry were struggling against Antrim. They eventually ran out comfortable winners and went on to win the All-Ireland.
Keeping Cooper company on the bench on Sunday will be last year’s first choice midfielder Anthony Maher and last year’s Young Player of the Year Paul Murphy who missed the semi-final win over Tipperary.
Cooper made his competitive comeback against Tipperary but like many of his colleagues struggled to impose himself on the game.
Team manager Eamon Fitzmaurice rarely does ‘dummy team’ and his decision to keep Cooper in reserve is based on a combination of the player’s form and tactical considerations.
Cork are expected to play a very defensive game and Cooper will almost certainly see action in the second half when the contest opens up.
The reality is that in modern day football most matches are won and lost in the final ten minutes.
Cooper could yet prove Kerry’s trump card on Sunday even if he spends most of the afternoon on the bench.
There are five changes in total from the side that beat Tipperary. Fionn Fitzgerald replaces Mark Griffin in the full back line; a fit again David Moran gets the nod ahead of his former partner Anthony Maher at midfield.
Stephen O’Brien and Donnchadh Walsh are named in the half forward line in place of Michael Geaney and Cooper respectively and the 2014 Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue gets the nod ahead of Paul Geaney in the full forward line.
Meanwhile, there are two changes on the Cork team; experienced duo Fintan Goold and Eoin Cadogan replace Conor Dorman and Colm O’Driscoll
Kerry: Brendan Kealy; Fionn Fitzgerald, Marc O Se, Shane Enright; Jonathan Lyne, Peter Crowley, Killian Young; David Moran, Bryan Sheehan; Stephen O’Brien, Johnny Buckley, Donnchadh Walsh; Barry John Keane, Kieran Donaghy, James O’Donoghue.
Cork: Ken O’Halloran; Michael Shields, Eoin Cadogan, James Loughrey; Barry O’Driscoll, Brian O’Driscoll, Stephen Cronin; Alan O’Connor, Fintan Goold; Paul Kerrigan, Donncha O’Connor, Kevin O’Driscoll; Colm O’Neill, Mark Collins, Brian Hurley.