Posted by Daragh Ó Conchúir

Ahead of Kerry’s blockbuster All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, eircom GAA ambassador Colm Cooper spoke to Experience More about the man he wished he played alongside, the motivational powers of Páidí Ó Sé, and Paul Galvin’s dress sense

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Ahead of Kerry’s blockbuster All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, eircom GAA ambassador Colm Cooper spoke to Experience More about the man he wished he played alongside, the motivational powers of Páidí Ó Sé, and Paul Galvin’s dress sense.

EXPERIENCE MORE: You probably have a contender or two yourself but what would be your score of the season?
COLM: Stephen O’Neill’s point against Kildare in the league semi-final. He actually got two of them but the one with dummy solo before he curled over from a tight angle would be hard to beat.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Save of the season?
COLM: Manus Breathnach against Cork in the qualifiers. He was brilliant that day.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What caught your eye in terms of tactical developments?
COLM: There’s nothing jumping off the page. The distance between the teams at the top and the teams who are trying to compete is growing. The better teams have a better balance between defence and attack and do both better. It’s getting tougher for the so-called weaker counties to break through but I don’t think there’s any emerging trends.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What’s the disappointment of the season?
COLM: From a Kerry point of view, the only disappointment so far has been our second half performances in the Munster final and the Cavan match. But having said that, if you said to us at the start of the year that you’d be preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final against the Dubs with a Munster title under your belt, you’d gladly have accepted that.

EXPERIENCE MORE: If you were to name Footballer of the Year in the morning, who would it be?
COLM: Probably Aidan O’Shea. There’s a lot of football to be played yet but he’s been outstanding every time I’ve seen him. When he burst on the scene there was huge expectation coming out of minor. I know myself it takes a couple of years to adapt. He’s filled out into a monster. I wouldn’t like to be jumping against him in the middle of the field. But it’s not just the size of him. It’s his football and skill level. He was always going to be a big, strong boy but it’s how he’s developed his skills that have been the key.

EXPERIENCE MORE: From any era, name one player you would have transferred to your county who would have made yours an All-Ireland winning team.
COLM: He’s actually from Kerry but a guy I never got to play with – unfortunately he retired the year I came in – was Maurice Fitzgerald. I would have loved to have played with him. If we had him for a few more years, it would have been fantastic to play alongside him first of all, and he might have helped us win a couple of more All-Irelands.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who has given your team the most memorable motivational speech ever - from inside or outside the camp?
Páidí Ó Sé. To see how much football meant to him and how much he wanted Kerry to succeed... It rubbed off on me and on the other players. It showed me how football really is in Kerry to everybody. He inspired me many nights in dressing rooms and hotels with his speeches. He was a great character and a great guy to have around.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What's the toughest training camp/day/weekend ye have ever done?
John O’Keeffe had these nice, long runs outside on the small pitch in Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney in January and they were ones I struggled with. I remember running up and down the hill in the muck and the rain and saying to myself ‘this is not what I signed up for’. It seemed a long way from Croke Park on those nights. I wondered was I able for it but you get used to it.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the joker on the panel?
COLM: Marc Ó Sé. He’s got a bit of everything. He’s a prankster and a good man for the one-liners too.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the best trainer?
COLM: Aidan O’Mahony would go through a wall for you.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the best and worst dressed?
Galvin gets a lot of stick and I have to say he’s the worst dressed. Some of the stuff, I don’t know where he comes up with it, so he deserves the stick, although it’s water off a duck’s back to him. There are a couple of young guys coming in with some stylish stuff. A clubmate of mine at Dr Crokes, Kieran O’Leary, is always well groomed.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What player from another sport do you most admire?
COLM: There are two. I really admire Roger Federer in what he’s done over his career in tennis. And as well, there’s Tiger Woods. He’s a phenomenal competitor who’s taken an awful lot of stick over the last couple of years. Any sportsman can be good for a year or two but how I judge the greatest is their lifespan. They win Majors, they win Grand Slams, they continue to do it and they keep coming back for more. So they’re two of the guys I would look up to in terms of that. Their longevity is something I’d really admire.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What manager from another sport do you admire?
Phil Jackson. He was manager of the Bulls and Lakers in basketball. He was in charge of the Bulls when Jordan was there, and built two teams that won three titles in a row each. He came to the Lakers when Shaq and Kobe were there and they found it hard to gel at first but he cleaned it up and brought another five titles there over two different spells. They’re two big franchises so to do that was a fair achievement.

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