Tuesday 24 October 2017

Late bloomer Coughlan bids fond farewell

James Coughlan: “I had a fantastic eight years at Munster and I thank everyone involved with the province.
James Coughlan: “I had a fantastic eight years at Munster and I thank everyone involved with the province." Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Former Munster No 8 James Coughlan will continue to plot Pau's remarkable challenge for a Top 14 play-off berth before bringing the curtain down on a fine career.

Now 36, he will finish without the Ireland cap he cherished but, as the Dolphin club man admits, to have played even once for his home province, let alone remain with them for more than eight years, was an achievement in itself.

"I had a fantastic eight years at Munster and I thank everyone involved with the province," said Coughlan, who only made his debut at 25 before playing 139 times.

"I took great pride in winning the Munster Player of the Year in 2011. I didn't exactly take the direct route to professional rugby, it was a very long and winding route.

"But I always had belief that if I stayed true to myself and committed to it with everything that I had, I would achieve my dream and do the thing I loved the most for a living.

"It's been amazing and I'll cherish it forever. The page turns and the wheel will keep turning; I just hope I left the odd mark along the way."

A thoughtful, combative No 8 in the mould of the man he would eventually succeed in the shirt, Anthony Foley, he should have earned an Irish cap.

Many have won just one and were never good enough to win another; his misfortune was to play in the shadow of the indomitable Jamie Heaslip.

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