Colm Cooper says he's worried that Cillian O’Connor will do 'serious damage’ to Kerry’s All-Ireland chances as the Mayo man passes his all-time scoring record this weekend.
O’Connor needs five points to become the leading scorer in championship history – his 23-279 in 51 games leaves him four points behind Cooper’s 23-283 in 85 matches.
He registers at an average rate of 6.8 points per game which means he’s likely to take the crown in the Gooch’s backyard when Mayo meet the Kingdom in their opening All-Ireland quarter-final Super 8s tie on Sunday.
We need your consent to load this SoundCloud contentWe use SoundCloud to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
"He’s not going to break it in Killarney – we have a plan for him, but I just can’t share it with you at the minute!" joked Cooper, speaking on the latest episode of the RTÉ GAA Podcast.
"It looks money on that he’s going to do it this weekend in Killarney and he’s going to deserve it.
"What I like about Cillian O’Connor and it gets people a bit mad is he plays on the edge. He gets stuck in a few fracases, he kicks the ball away, he’s a very streetwise, experienced player.
"He calms everyone around him, he sets the tone for this team with his tackling and they are so much a better team when he’s in it.
"My fear for Kerry is we don’t have too many man-markers, if any, and I’m wondering who is going to pick him up, who is going to pick Darragh Coen up. It worries me a little bit because if these guys get space I think they could do serious damage in Killarney."
Most of O'Connor’s scores come from the dead ball, which is a contrast to Cooper, though the Kerry man doesn’t think that this takes from the 27-year-old’s achievements.
"It’s an incredible record," said Cooper. "He’s one of the main reasons why Mayo have played in so many big games, made so many All-Ireland finals and come within a whisker of winning the All-Ireland.
"He’s been captain, an unbelievable player for them and what impressed me about him last week (against Galway) was having missed so much football this year he came back in and was their most influential forward within 20 minutes, laying off the ball and scoring.
"He’s going to go miles past the record given his age. He’s 27 so he’ll play for another three, four, five years if he stays healthy.
"They’re craving an All-Ireland medal; he’s won his All Stars, he’s going to have the scoring record and I’m sure he’d give it all up for an All-Ireland medal.
"He gets a bit of criticism, like when he hit the post with a free in the 2016 All-Ireland final and people were saying they would have won if it went over. I say they certainly wouldn’t have been anywhere near an All-Ireland without him."
Follow all the weekend's Super 8s action via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, watch Dublin v Cork on RTÉ2 and Kerry v Mayo on RTÉ1 and listen to national radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and Raidió na Gaeltachta.