TYRONE LEGEND OWEN Mulligan has labelled Jonny Cooper as the “Sergio Ramos of Dublin” in the wake of the county’s latest All-Ireland victory.
Cooper has suffered a championship defeat just once in his Dublin career and collected his fifth Celtic Cross on Sunday at the age of 28.
The Na Fianna man is one of the enforcers in the Dublin defence and after conceding an early free for an off-the-ball incident, he gave a confident display as Dublin delivered the four-in-a-row.
Mulligan played alongside teak-tough defenders such as Ryan McMenamin, Conor Gormley and Philip Jordan, and recognises similar battling qualities in Cooper.
“The teams I played in on ‘03, ‘05 and ’08, we were blessed with nasty bastards in the back line – the sort of defender that took it to the edge in every single game,” said Paddy Power ambassador and columnist Mulligan.
“I’m a massive fan of Jonny Cooper, the Sergio Ramos of Dublin. He dives as if he’s been shot by a sniper and he fouls cynically in all the right areas.
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“He’s a match winner. Cooper controls Dublin’s back line, and if referees need to be challenged he’s the first man up, like butter would melt. Cute hoorism comes to mind.
“Tyrone lack such a figure. You can’t teach this, you’re just born with it. The opposition hate him, but he’s a cult hero on Hill 16. Every team needs a Jonny Ramos!”
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Mulligan believes Mickey Harte is the right man to lead Tyrone forward in 2019 after the reached their first final in a decade.
“To get to an All-Ireland final after being beat in the first round of the championship and build a new team shows that Tyrone are going in the right direction. Nobody gave them a chance, but the bond and togetherness they’ve showed means they could be dinning at the top table for a long time.
“A search party will be on the lookout for a clinical scoring forward and another midfielder to free up Mattie Donnelly and Colm Cavanagh. They need to play in a position that benefits the team in an attacking and defensive capacity. This has to be addressed next season.
“Mickey’s built a new team. Colly Cavanagh and Cathal McCarron are the only two who are over 30. He’s brought confidence back into the set-up, he won two Ulster’s in a row in 2016 and 2017, and made it to the All-Ireland final this year which will really bring them on.
“I genuinely believe he’s the man to bring us forward. He’s had a few shots at the likes of myself and other former players, but we’re entitled to our opinion and we have to call it as we see it.
“He’s brought a new level of confidence to the county and when you think back to their first-round loss to Monaghan they weren’t given a chance, but made it to the All-Ireland final.
“They ran into the best team to have ever played the game and couldn’t match them but he’s still the man for the job.”
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