Dubs’ Injury Doubt Cooper ‘All About The Collective’.
Dublin might have expectation going into this weekend but all Na Fianna man Jonny Cooper has is hope.
A quad muscle injury ruled him out of the Leinster final and in his stead Mick Fitzsimons put in a performance more than deserving of retaining his spot.
It’s over a fortnight since that taking apart of Meath but Cooper has only had since the weekend previous to last to work his way back into Jim Gavin’s good books.
Picking up an injury in most county panels is precarious but in Dublin it’s almost reckless. “It’s not enjoyable to watch sometimes from outside when you are not able to play a part but it’s all about the collective and once they are winning it doesn’t really matter.
“It’s dog eat dog in there and I think that although we are all feeding into the one channel of a collective Dublin performance, we are all trying to get a starting 15 jersey.
“The hunger is massive because the competition is massive because the next guy could step up just as well, or maybe better, than you can in some cases.”
Where last year defence was seen as the weaker part of Dublin’s line-up — although, they still make few personnel changes in that area during games — it is now regarded as a stronger unit than their forward division.
“We are growing into each other’s pockets now at this stage,” says Cooper. “Behind the scenes, there are probably 13 or 14 backs that are coming together in different parts of sessions, working together, and you can see when guys get chances this year they have fitted in seamlessly.”
The discipline and application of the rearguard and the team as a whole has been excellent when it is considered they have now gone 12 league and championship games without picking up a single black card.
“A lot of emphasis would be placed on discipline, on and off the pitch, and aspects of gameplay. Jim makes that very clear and it is not within his psyche to have disciplinary issues.”
Just as hazardous as picking up an injury, it would seem, but Cooper says their approach to the black card is not all that difficult to their tactics when it had yet to be implemented in 2013.
“I think we have the same routine we would have had last year to be quite honest. We probably feel that defending is an art form, just like scoring.”
Their technique in tackling has been excellent and comes down, Cooper says, to identifying the small window of opportunity to spoil or steal the ball or upset the opponent in possession.
“We just base a lot of emphasis on the contact zone and going into contact with somebody else and what you do in that one or two seconds you might have within touching distance of the ball. That’s all it is, a second or two at this level, I suppose it’s about maximising that initial phase.”
Dublin didn’t learn until Saturday night the identify of their All-Ireland quarter-final opponents, Monaghan, this weekend. Not that it mattered too much to Cooper.
“To be quite honest, we focus on ourselves quite a lot anyway. Obviously, we have to recognise the challenge and the aspects that an opposition brings to the game and try to counteract (that).