National League

Is Mickey Harte ready to bow out and Colm Cooper's eye injury

April 20th, 2010
by Weeshie Fogarty

No matter what way you look at it the recently completed National League and ensuing results whether good or bad will be stored away and forgotten about because in the over all picture the real work has only now begun, No matter what they say or how hard they try the footballers of all counties but in particular those who have a lot of mileage on the body clock find it impossible to be motivate themselves fully for action in the months of February, March or April. All footballers including those playing in the multitude of club championships are all geared for the summer and the long nights of training on hard pitches. Its then they feel the right to be judged and not on winter leagues, national leagues or any other kind of league. "The leagues are for playing in and the championships are for winning". So said the great Kerry footballer John Dowling to me many years ago.

I have yet to hear any supporter, player or pundit pose the question as to who will be the last two or four teams remaining in the various divisions of the national league. No one really cares. However, and its very evident at the moment the main topic of discussion is who will be the last few left in the championship and many people I have spoken to are going for Kerry, Mayo, Cork and Dublin. No mention of our recent greatest rivals Tyrone. And they will I fear be one of the dark horses as the summer unfolds.  Nevertheless I am reliably informed that all is not well in the Tyrone camp. Injuries have decimated the Red Hands. Stevie o Neill is absent; Brian Dooher made no appearance in the National League, while Owen Mulligan has got some playing time under his belt his serious back problems have returned to haunt him. And to add insult to injury Justin McMahon, Enda McGinley and Connor Gormley are all out with serious injuries.

In all of Tyrone's recent great victories I have noted that they always look to adversity for inspiration. "We will do it for this person who has died, or that person who is playing his last game or we will perpetuate the memory of some one else by winning this All Ireland". Mickey Harte is the master at this and i suspect this year will be his last in charge of Tyrone with the result that he will apply himself to getting to the final like never before. Players listening to the same voice all the time will eventually not hear and Mickey Harte will have to pull some big rabbits out of the hat to go out on a winning note. It's going to be fascinating to watch and listen to the comments emanating fro the county in the coming months. I have noticed that in the recent past the Tyrone man has raged in the media at many GAA issues. A sure sign of a man under pressure.  He is totally against the mark in football, is a very strong advocate of abandoning the fisted pass and most notably of all he was advocating the abolition of televised national leagues games in which his county was involved stating that they were being badly wronged when suspensions were being applied. "Trial by media" he cried  So it remains to be seen if the old Tyrone fox can summon one last big push from his tiring, injury prone players and go out on a winning note. I suspect that when push comes to shove and the sun shines high over Croke Park Tyrone will be there to battle it out with any of the afore mentioned favorites.

On the other hand our own high commander Jack o Conner seems quite at ease with himself and the football world. Probally the two years rest away from the massive pressures when Pat o Shea took over has been of great help to the Kerry boss. For all managers it's a full time seven days a week job. It occupies the mind first thing in the morning and last thing at night and here from a Kerry perspective the biggest worry is without doubt the fear of serious injury to any of the big names on the panel.  And injury can come in all shapes and guises. Take Colm Coopers recent injury. Thankfully it appears the eye trauma Colm suffered against Monaghan two weeks ago has not been as serious as first suspected. Colms injury was diagnosed as a torn tear duct in his left eye. He had an operation in Dublin within forty eight hours and following a few weeks recuperation he should all going well, be fit for the big games coming up. Time is definitely on his side.  Full marks to the medical team who attended to him on the field immediately following that finger in the eye and also the prompt follow up attention as he was whisked to the eye specialists for full diagnosis of the injury. In all cases of eye injuries particularly prompt attention is the key to full recovery.

Now let me make it quite clear that I in no way profess to have any great knowledge of injuries however I do have painful memories of a serious eye  injury sustained back in the early seventies. Playing against Rathmore with The Legion in the Stadium an accidental figure in the eye left me in no doubt but things were not right. No medical expertise on the side line back then. The old bottle of water trick was used. Pour some water it into the eye, and play on.  During the following ten days it seemed as if a blind was being slowly pulled down over my left eye. A visit to the specialist, former Kerry minor Dr. Horan who quickly advised me of the seriousness of the injury. I had suffered a detached retina.  Immediate admission to the Eye, Ear and Nose Hospital, Cork (now closed). Ten days later following rest and assessment, a long operation, no laser back then and thankfully the retina was corrected. Mr. Horan did a superb job and I nearly regained my full vision of the injured eye.  However the delay between the time of the injury and I visiting the specialist could well have proved much more serious indeed.   

The" Gooch" is one of Kerry's greatest assets, he is one in a million and I honestly feel that he is absolutely vital to our hopes of retaining the All Ireland. He is one of those very few players of whom I can easily say, we will never see his likes again.  The side is beginning to take shape, only time will tell if last years success can be repeated. Will we see more displays as we saw like the Dublin spectacular last year? Who knows? We have the men in charge and the trainers to get the lads right mentally and physically. And finally let's hope Down continue on their winning way and come out of Ulster. The memories of 1960-61 and '68 and those defeats remain etched deeply in the minds of all those who were present on those momentous days. They need to be erased.

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