Tomás Ó Sé tells brilliant story about first encounter with Colm Cooper
"As a Kerryman, I was hoping... "
Tomás Ó Sé was like the rest of us the morning the news broke.
Between Ó Sé and Colm Cooper, they won nine Munster titles and five All-Irelands together. Between them, they have 13 All Stars.
Back in April 2017, he woke up to news that Colm Cooper was set to retire but dared not take The Irish Independent for their word, even though they have him as on-board as a columnist. There were other reports filtering through but Ó Sé went straight to the horse's mouth (or phone). He told RTE Radio:
"I texted The Gooch and he confirmed, yeah, he's gone."
Both Ó Sé and Cooper soldiered together in green and gold for over a decade and brought some glory, and a stack of silverware, back to The Kingdom.
There is no doubt in Ó Sé's mind where Cooper - winner of five All Irelands, seven Munster titles and eight All Stars - sits in the pantheon of GAA greats. He declared:
"In my mind, he was the greatest Kerry footballer."
Ó Sé described 'Gooch' as being like a snooker player, in that he was always 'five or six moves ahead of everybody else'. If he was ever coaching an up-and-coming player or an eager youngster, he would simply tell him to watch footage of the diminutive Kerry forward.
Ó Sé recalled the first time he ever met Cooper:
"He was working in Jack's bar in 2000. He could hardly see over the counter and some guy said, 'That guy will win you All Irelands yet'."
Ó Sé may not have believed it to see Cooper, all 10 stone of him, but they would be playing together two years later - hunting for Sam Maguire glory.
"I remember his debut season [with Kerry] in 2002. They didn't have those tight jerseys [back then] and the jersey looked like a blanket thrown over him."
The first All-Ireland trophy would follow in 2004 and he was not finished there. His skill was unbelievable and his thirst for titles insatiable.
"His left was as good as his right," said Ó Sé.
He called him a 'complete icon of the GAA' too but, sure, that's a given.