JONNY Cooper was keen to draw a line under Dublin’s second successive All-Ireland football success as he looked ahead to the fast-approaching new league season.
The O’Byrne Cup has seen many new faces tried out and a couple could lay claim to longer term spot, something the Na Fianna man reflected on along with the ongoing club vs county debate.
“2016 has definitely gone, it’s in the past,” Cooper said at the launch of the Allianz Football League, which gets underway in the first weekend of February with a game away in Cavan in Breffni Park.
“From the outside, [the idea that we’re under pressure of expectation due to our success] is probably a fair assessment. 2017 is a new year. There’s a new crop of lads doing very well in the O’Byrne Cup competition, and hopefully a few of them will step up.”
Having been black carded early in the final replay against Mayo, Cooper admitted the 2016 title was slightly tainted for him, and cited the experience as a motivating factor for the coming season.
“It probably left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth,” he explained. “It takes the shine off a bit for me personally, I have my standards for performance and coming off after a few minutes wouldn’t be one of them.”
The defender is also hoping to appear more for club side Na Fianna in the coming year, and has committed to backing any proposal the Club Player’s Association might put forward to redress the balance.
“I’d like to see something cleaned up in terms of the calendar,” he argued. “I think I was with the club for about six weeks in 2016, and over the year that’s not good enough and it’s not what they expect of me.
“They’re the reason I’ve got to play for Dublin. Whatever proposal the CPA come up with, I’ll row in behind it.”
Dublin can expect to be as strong as ever this season, with Cooper suggesting there are no retirements amongst the panel with star of 2015 Jack McCaffrey set to return.
With the alternate squad competing in the O’Byrne Cup while the first team holidayed in Jamaica, Cooper has been back in training for only a couple of weeks.
“We’ve been attempting to replicate the intensity in training, though it might not have quite the same bite as pre-season competition.”
The defender promises “the league is still a priority, and as a player it’s about getting the jersey for the championship.”
As far as hitting what will undoubtedly become an increasingly-hyped three All-Irelands in a row goes, it’s clear that for Cooper, there’s no shortage of motivation.

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