Is the crime greater, that as Kerry supporters we have been robbed of Listowel’s Conor Cox, or that his discernible talents were arrogantly ignored by the previous Kerry management? After some spectacular performances in The National Football League, Conor Cox has now added a Connacht title to his long list of achievements. The player who has long been overlooked by our Kerry hierarchy, has been the leading light in an energetic Roscommon attack since he swapped the green & gold for the primrose & blue.
Indeed we need to use the word ’swapped’ very carefully. It would be fair to say, that had Conor received even a portion of the opportunities afforded to other members of previous Kerry teams, the story would have played out somewhat differently. With his sensational displays he has shattered the opinion that Kerry’s inside forward line has too much quality for Cox to feature. However, the greatest crime of all here is that he was not even asked to be part of the Kerry panel over the past few years, including this year before his transfer.
Conor has played for the Kerry seniors in the past with what seemed like some token gestures in The National League. Introduced from the bench away to Dublin and starting away to Mayo were some of his cameo appearances but were hardly the ideal arenas for a young forward to showcase his capabilities.
After a man of the match performance against Mayo and imperious last Sunday, he has proven beyond doubt he is a top level performer. If the All Stars were picked today he would be many peoples’s first choice. His strength, movement and sublime accuracy from either foot would surely have added a welcome dimension to the Kerry attack. Before the championship threw in both Mayo and Galway were considered All-Ireland contenders, and Conor a championship debutant, has emerged as the star player of the entire championship thus far. He also scored the undeniable point of this championship with a beauty off his left from a ridiculously acute angle in the first half last Sunday.
All this poses many questions with regard to how selection has taken place in The Kingdom over the years. Was it personal? As surely, if you have climbed the ladder to be Kerry manager or selector you have a natural instinct when assessing a young players potential. Is it not the job of Kerry management to recognise talent and nurture it into a player capable of competing at the highest level? This has evidently happened in the past, yet was Cox not worthy of this treatment?
It may be that Conor has increased his training levels since his time with The Kingdom or that he fits The Rossies’ ethos perfectly, but either way Kerry’s loss is Roscommon’s gain and they have received him with open arms. He was one of the first to be lofted upon supporter’s shoulders as they flooded Pearse Stadium last Sunday to celebrate his and the team’s heroic victory.
Conor himself would not speak negatively about Kerry GAA following his switch to The Rossies, saying he still keeps in touch with some of the Kerry players. He enjoyed every moment he donned the Kerry jersey but its just a pity for us as Kerry supporters that we haven’t seen the best of this dynamic attacker, now in his peak years.
This debate may linger on but for now everyone in Listowel and I’m sure Kerry wishes Conor every success in the rest of the championship, as we look forward to some more glorious performances.