'I think it's great,' Dublin star Jonny Cooper on championship knockout format

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James Cox
Dublin footballer Jonny Cooper has revealed he is looking forward to the new straight knockout format for the All-Ireland senior football championship this year.

Cooper was joined by Dublin camogie player Emma O'Byrne, hurler Eoghan O'Donnell and ladies' footballer Jennifer Dunne at the Dublin GAA season launch yesterday.

Cooper said the straight knockout format will add a lot of intensity to the championship.

"What I like about it is there's no safety net, in any championship or any sport in general, when it's all on the line you tend to get a little bit more rawness to it. I'm certainly looking forward to that, yeah, you could be knocked out the first day. I'm looking forward to it myself, I think it's a great format. We're enjoying it for what it is, in my view, it's exciting more than anything else."

While preparing for an October championship is a new experience, Cooper, 30, said it's nothing his teammates are not used to having prepared for National League campaigns in the winter.

AIG Insurance today launched the 2020 Dublin All-Ireland GAA Season with a tribute to club volunteers, members and frontline workers. Dublin footballer Jonny Cooper, hurler Eoghan O’Donnell, ladies’ footballer Jennifer Dunne and camogie player Emma O’Byrne were in Parnell Park as part of the launch.
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"The weather, the temperature, is the first thing that jumps out but after that I don't think there's a massive amount of difference. You still do your due diligence, your work and your preparation, all that stays the same. You prepare a little differently in relation to conditions that may be there, that may not come into play in the summer.

"You get that for the league anyway though so it's different to what we may be used to for a championship stage but it's not different in terms of playing games in different conditions. There's an exciting buzz around our place and we're looking forward to it [the championship]."

Jim Gavin stepped down after leading the Dubs to five All-Ireland titles on the trot in 2019 and Dessie Farrell's first season in charge has been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Cooper feels the new management has gelled with the squad ahead of the championhip.

"I would have known him from Na Fianna [Farrell] and seen him from afar from a young age. The last week or two has been great to get down to the trenches and start working hard. There's an honest relationship between us as there needs to be in terms of feedback. I have a massive amount that I'd like to grow and learn on and he'll be up front with his thoughts and where he can see growth.

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"I think when a fresh slate comes in, there's a bit of where do you stand? What does he think? It's brilliant because it stops you in your tracks. While there's been huge success in the last few years I have no doubt there's a massive amount of growth and opportunity in our space to do and be more as people and as a team. We're getting to know each other as a team and as a coaching staff a lot better."

Emma O'Byrne said the Dublin camogie squad is happy to be working together again, adding that the focus is just on the next game amid uncertainties due to the pandemic.

"We've all taken the right precautions in keeping safe, keeping our distance. We don't know what will happen realistically with the numbers going up every day but I think we're just focused on the first date of the championship and keeping safe until then. We're away from our own county team for so long so it's just really good to see the girls again."

Eoghan O'Donnell also focused on the positives, adding that he has a renewed appreciation for the championship.

AIG Insurance today launched the 2020 Dublin All-Ireland GAA Season with a tribute to club volunteers, members and frontline workers. Dublin footballer Jonny Cooper, hurler Eoghan O’Donnell, ladies’ footballer Jennifer Dunne and camogie player Emma O’Byrne were in Parnell Park as part of the launch.

"It's a huge positive to be facing into a championship and we're all looking forward to it. Obviously everyone wants a full Croke Park in August but it's a lot better than nothing and we're definitely looking forward to it.

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"For me, a small bit of a break was nice, I've been on the road a long time with club and county. Then the fear that we wouldn't get a championship set in, so when it got the green delight we were all delighted. It gave us a new lease of energy. It will be played out over a shorter period of time so you can go hell for leather. I think players have a new sense of appreciation for it. Like anything, you don't realise how much it means until it's taken away from you."

Jennifer Dunne has won two All-Ireland titles at just 19 and she feels there is a lot more success to come from the current crop.

AIG Insurance today launched the 2020 Dublin All-Ireland GAA Season with a tribute to club volunteers, members and frontline workers. Dublin footballer Jonny Cooper, hurler Eoghan O’Donnell, ladies’ footballer Jennifer Dunne and camogie player Emma O’Byrne were in Parnell Park as part of the launch.

"I joined in 2018, I was quite nervous coming into a group who had just won an All-Ireland. I never really had a sniff at any silverware under age but now I have two All-Irelands and I'm very appreciative of them. Winning in 2018 against Cork and last year as well, there was a great buzz around it and everyone wants to keep bettering themselves as players and as a group.

"With myself and the younger girls coming through, some of the older players have learnt from their losses and transferred it into success in the last few years."

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