Jonny Cooper names his favourite position, and you really can't argue
Jonny Cooper has five All-Ireland titles, in five different positions. Let that sink in for a second...
One can only imagine how hard it is coming into a team that are All-Ireland champions and trying to make your mark. Cooper though, has done it so effectively that you forget he wasn't even part of the Dublin team that made the breakthrough in 2011.
Since his own breakthrough in 2012, Cooper has made a name for himself as Dublin's go-to man in defence. He holds the unique record of playing in five different positions in five All-Ireland finals. The teak-tough defender is one left half back performance away from having a full set of defensive jerseys.
- 2013 - Left corner back (No.4)
- 2015 - Right corner back (No.2)
- 2016 - Centre full back (No.3)
- 2017 - Right half back (No.5)
- 2018 - Centre half back (No.6)
Having played in a variety of different positions, where does Cooper himself feel most comfortable?
"Probably in the fullback line. I like that kind of stuff."
Ever the competitor, Cooper enjoys the full back line as it gives him the chances to test his skills in an area of the pitch that he describes as 'unforgiving'.
"I guess from a competitive, individual point of view, what better place to test what I’ve been practising in an environment that is kind of unforgiving sometimes.
"I like the challenge of trying to mark some people that are extremely talented forwards on the opposition. I enjoy that challenge."
With the Na Fianna man, it's not only the number on the jersey that has changed and evolved down through the years, his role in this all-conquering Dublin side has developed with each passing All-Ireland victory.
When long-serving captain Stephen Cluxton missed this seasons Leinster final win over Laois, it was Cooper who stepped up to lift the Delaney Cup on behalf of the team.
Whilst Cooper claims this doesn't make him Dublin's vice-captain, it does give an insight into how he is viewed throughout the team.
"I don't think I'm vice captain, I just happened to be nominated on the day.
"I guess I've hopefully grown into more of a leadership role in the last couple of years. I would like to think firstly that I challenge myself to be the best I can be, and also challenge others to be the best that they can be.
"So probably more around leadership. The first couple of years wasn't great in terms of confidence and maybe that side of things. Finding my own game and probably doing OK to be fair.
"Then the last couple of years, knowing what I'm good at and not so good at on and off the field. I've probably come at it from a different angle, from a team point of view, on the pitch type stuff. But also off the pitch, trying to stimulate and maybe add value to the overall culture and environment as such."
The five-time All-Ireland champion doesn't see Dublin letting up any over the next couple years. In fact, he thinks the team is getting even better, and it's down to individual players outside that starting 15 constantly bringing something to the table.
"I think you’ll find a lot of individuals will feel they can add a lot more value which obviously contributes to the overall team effort.
"So I think it starts with that individual kind of drive and competitiveness to actually find or craft whatever it is they need to add onto their game. Based on feedback and experiences so, yeah I definitely would and it’s something that’s very exciting for the players to be going after."
Cooper admits the effort of those individuals to get into the team, keeps the established stars on their toes. If Jim Gavin has proved anything it is that nobody on this Dublin side has their jersey nailed down.
"It's just a really challenging, open environment that pretty much everyone is shooting for each other in terms of position.
"So from that point of view, it’s hard to even think about complacency or think about not pushing yourselves to the limit. The other guy is potentially going to be doing that, filling the gap in your jersey."
Seven seasons, five All-Ireland's, five positions. All the while, the team gets better and better. Jonny Cooper could go down as one of the greatest defenders to ever play the game.
Newly crowned All-Ireland Senior football winner, Jonny Cooper was at the National Games Development Centre at Abbotstown to attend the GAA Super Games Centres National Blitz Day 2018 in partnership with Sky Sports.