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Seven-time All-Ireland winner Jonny Cooper retires

He won seven All-Ireland senior football medals, in 2013 and then on each of the six in a row team from 2015 to 2020.

Jonny Cooper has retired© SPORTSFILE

John BrennanSunday World

Jonny Cooper has retired from inter-county football. The 33-year-old Na Fianna defender made the news public in a statement today in which he thanked the many Dublin team-mates, coaches and backroom staff who had helped him achieve so much over the years.

He won seven All-Ireland senior football medals, in 2013 and then on each of the six in a row team from 2015 to 2020. There were also ten Leinster senior football medals as Dublin dominated the eastern province for all of his career.

Cooper also won a Leinster minor hurling medal in 2007, as a forward, before switching to the big ball exclusively where an All-Ireland Under 21 medal was won in that code in 2010 alongside the likes of James McCarthy, Dean Rock and Rory O’Carroll.

Occasionally a controversial character, Cooper had many good days, and a few bad ones, in the Sky Blue shirt and they often tended to come close to each other. Such as in the 2019 drawn All-Ireland Final, where he was sent off just before half-time for repeated fouling of Kerry’s David Clifford.

For the replay, Dublin boss Jim Gavin made a tactical change. He put Mick Fitzsimons into the man-marking role on Clifford and gave Cooper a free role as sweeper. The Na Fianna man took to the job with gusto, giving the scoring pass for three first-half Dublin points and influencing the game hugely.

Dessie Farrell will be sad to lose his club-mate for the 2023 inter-county season. After getting Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion back, and persuading Pat Gilroy to come on board in the backroom team, Farrell would have wanted everyone available for the challenge of recovering the Sam Maguire Cup after a two-year absence later this summer.

Yet the reality may be that Cooper would have seen the writing on the wall in the Dublin dressing-room.

If McCaffrey comes back to anything like his brilliant best, he is an automatic defensive choice. Lee Gannon played well enough as a first year corner back in 2022 to get a Young Player of the Year nomination and David Byrne missed much of last season through injury.

He’ll be back and so competition for a starting role with the Dubs in defence was always going to be tough for the year just starting.

Cooper’s statement also had kind words for the Dublin supporters. “To the loyal and passionate Dublin supporters. Many times electricity ran through my veins – I have never felt more alive than in front of you.

“I appreciate this deep connection; your support on the good days and not so good days is unrivalled.”

Perhaps Farrell might be tempted to ask Cooper to stay involved with the group in some way, as he did with Darren Daly, when the latter quit playing for Dublin.

If not, it is almost certain that you will find him running a Dublin under-age Development squad in a year or two – and so bringing on the next generation of Dublin footballers.

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