Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Special club' Vincent's can prevail - Hugh Coghlan

Hugh Coghlan
Hugh Coghlan
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It doesn't feel like it but it's closing on seven years since St Vincent's made the breakthrough, re-announcing themselves on the national stage with a run to St Patrick's day success that caught most people, including themselves to an extent, by surprise.

Hugh Coghlan was part of that team but almost by accident. The Tipperary native's work as a Guard brought him to Dublin and the Marino club.

And that stage, an All-Ireland title wasn't on his radar. In fact, neither was football. He moved to Vincent's with a view to playing hurling, but the big ball sucked him in.

In 2007, Vincent's ended a 23-year wait for a county title. A long gap by any standard, but a famine for a club that had long dominated the scene in Dublin. From there they got on a roll and beat Nemo Rangers on March 17 to cap a memorable campaign.

Coghlan has moved on since. He won three county titles with Portlaoise and helped build the emerging force that is Tipp football.

Career

He has also returned to his home club of Moyne-Templetuohy, giving them the final few years of his career, but there has been no let-up in pace there. They are senior in both codes in 2015. It all means he's a busy man but still, he keeps an eye on the goings-on in Marino.

Much has changed since his time there and new faces have emerged. In fact, only five of the team that started the 2008 All-Ireland club final were in situ for last year's win over Castlebar Mitchels, but Coghlan is not surprised that they have found a way to stay at the top.

"The minute I walked in the gates you could see it was a special club," Coghlan recalls. "It was very warm and they made you feel welcome immediately.

"It was a surprise they went so long without a county title considering the work they were doing there. They have great people there at every level between coaching and everything. With that and the history they have it's no wonder they are where they are."

Tomas Quinn, Hugh Gill, Michael Savage, Diarmuid Connolly and Ger Brennan are still in the starting side from Coghlan's time and they continue to impress.

"Those lads have been great. Sometimes they might be getting double-marked but they can still come up with a big play at a crucial time," he says. "They have shown great leadership. Other times they have opened doors for other lads to shine."

Physically they are imposing too. Their hard running has proved too much for many teams. Coghlan recalls the training they did as "savage" under Mickey Whelan and reckons their preparation is comparable with what county teams are doing.

"I have no doubt they are training as much as a county side. I've been looking at them the last while and they have such power when running at teams," he says.

"When we were there we did savage training. And things have moved on so you can only imagine what they are doing now."

Tomorrow he'll watch on as they face another real test of their credentials. Back-to-back All-Ireland titles would be a huge event, even for a club of St Vincent's stature.

But Corofin have been blazing a trail out west and will offer a significant hurdle.

Still, Coghlan expects his former club to be standing after the weekend.

"I'd have to pick Vincent's. Corofin are a good team. They put Ballintubber away nicely which you have to give them credit for that," he says.

"But even leaving bias out of it, you'd have to say that Vincent's have been looking very good."

Irish Independent

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