Tuesday 15 October 2019

Wicklow import Coen 'no Johnston case'

Cliona Foley

WICKLOW manager Harry Murphy is furious that the Garden County's recent recruitment of ex-Tipperary footballer Brian Coen has been likened to Kildare's signing of Seanie Johnston from Cavan last season.

"This is a completely different situation," Murphy insisted. "Brian has been living in Wicklow for a few years, he is getting married here and building a house here at the moment.

"He was finding it difficult going up and down to Tipp so eventually transferred clubs and that is how he has become eligible for us."

The fact that Coen has qualified to play for Wicklow's footballers in Sunday's Leinster SFC clash with Longford by lining out in the local club hurling championship has caused his move to be compared to a more controversial transfer. Ex-Cavan footballer Johnston famously qualified for Kildare's footballers last summer by briefly making an appearance in a local club hurling match.

But Kenny stressed: "Brian has always played hurling and football. It has just happened that he has lined out for St Patrick's hurlers first in the club championship."

Coen, a garda, has already played league football for his new club, but he had to play a championship game in Wicklow in order to complete his inter-county transfer, thanks to the regulation that was introduced last season and promptly nicknamed 'the Seanie Johnston rule'.

Coen's last championship appearance for Tipperary was in an All-Ireland SFC qualifier against Dublin in June 2011, and Sunday's Leinster SFC game in Aughrim offers him his first opportunity to play for the Garden County.

His free-taking abilities are expected to be a big boost to Wicklow, who slumped to relegation during this year's Division 3 campaign due to losing so many of their top forwards.

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Seanie Furlong has since returned but the loss of Leighton Glynn (still injured) and Tony Hannon (retired) was a big blow to Wicklow's attack.

Paul Earls is another injury victim who looks unlikely to be back in time this weekend.

Opponents Longford were also without some marquee forwards in Brian Kavanagh and the Barden brothers Paul and David when they suffered relegation from Division 2.

Kavanagh is still abroad and David Barden is no longer involved, but Paul Barden is expected to make his long-awaited comeback from injury against Wicklow.

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