Johnny Cooper pictured in 2018. INPHO/BRYAN KEANE

Dublin’s Cooper bows out at 33

The historic Dublin trail blazers are slowly departing the scene one by one. This week sterling defender Johnny Cooper announcing that he was departing the intercounty scene at 33 years of age with seven All Irelands in his cabinet.

The 33-year-old was an integral part of Jim Gavin’s five-in-a-row winners who became the first team ever to record such a feat that Kerry almost achieved, but were denied by Seamus Darby’s late, late goal for Offaly in 1982.

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It means that only veteran Mick Fitzsimons of the original defence is left operating although he will be joined by Jack McCaffrey who announced he would come back out of retirement for the 2023 season.

Na Fianna star Cooper has been an ever-present with the Dubs for a decade but said in his retirement statement that he felt now was the right time to call it a day.

"I have had the immense honor and privilege to play on the Dublin senior football team for the past 11 years. To the loyal and passionate Dublin supporters. Many times electricity ran through my veins - I have never felt more alive than in front of you. I appreciate this deep connection; your support on the good days and the not so good days is unrivaled,” he stressed.

As a young player, he lined out for the county’s minor hurlers before captaining the U-21 football team to All-Ireland victory in 2010 but didn’t make the cut for Pat Gilroy’s seniors who won their first Celtic crosses the following year.

Once Gavin succeeded the St Vincent’s man as Dublin manager, Cooper became an ever present in the starting line-up. He lined out at the start of all the following seven triumphs and recovered from a knife attack in 2013 to make a full recovery and continue playing.

He was honored in 2016 and 2018 as an All-Star, a meagre enough return for the consistency of performances he turned out over the greater part of a decade. His final All-Ireland victory was after Gavin had stepped down to be followed by current manager Dessie Farrell at the helm.

The new manager appointed him as captain for the ’21 season but the county lost out to Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final while last year’s semi loss to Kerry in a thrilling finish would prove to be his final game in the Dublin colors.