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Colm Cooper Explains Why He Retired From International Rules Aged 22

Colm Cooper Explains Why He Retired From International Rules Aged 22
By PJ Browne
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The chance to play International Rules was an opportunity Colm Cooper wanted badly. Despite being named Man of the Match as Kerry beat Mayo in the 2004 All-Ireland final, he was overlooked by Pete McGrath for his Ireland panel later that autumn.

His ambition would be fulfilled the following year when he was selected for the trip Down Under. Sitting on a hotel bed in Melbourne with a concussion at the end of the tour, he probably wished it had not.

In his autobiography 'Gooch', the Kerry man tells how he came to decide, aged just 22, that his international career was over.

2005 saw Austalia bring a robustly physical approach, one which crossed the line on several occasions. The lack of disciplinary consequences in AFL for any of their actions meant the game turned into a no-holds-barred affair for many of the Aussies.

The Aussies have just given us a hiding. An aggregate series win of fifty-seven points for two Tests and a technical knockout in the physical stakes. Put simply, they’ve beaten us up, humiliated us. And now – with everyone else out on the tear, drowning their sorrows – I’m sitting alone on the far side of the world thinking one thing and one thing only.

Never again. Never fucking again.

Cooper says that the Australian team was "full of verbals" towards him. "Comin' to get you Goochie, don't you worry mate," was something he heard throughout the game.


Chris Johnson, the Australian co-captain was sent-off in the second test. His clothesline tackle on Philip Jordan became a notorious moment in International Rules history.

Cooper says that Johnson spent the game "just trying to nail people."


Even before he'd been concussed by "a cheap shot, zero intention of getting the ball", Cooper had already begun contemplating his international career.

I would go home with a very sour taste in my mouth after that. Why bother putting your health on the line for a glorified exhibition game against opponents intent on inflicting physical damage? The atmosphere was just appalling out there. One Irish player was even head-butted.

Before we’d left the stadium I think I said it to my room-mate, Eoin Brosnan. ‘I won’t be playing this again Brossie, not this shit.’ Just felt I was better off at home, looking after myself for Dr Crokes and Kerry rather than risking having my career ended by some Australian clown doing a decent impression of a thug.

Sitting in his hotel room, with no sign of Eoin Brosnan who was still out drowning his sorrows, Cooper decided "Never again. Not this shit."

Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

See Also: Arrogant Aussie Rules Player Seriously Dismissive Of GAA Players' Fitness

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