WHEN JORDAN COGHLAN returned to Dublin last May, the plan was to stay only a fortnight.
He had just completed a loan spell with Nottingham and his contract with Leicester had come to an end but Coghlan’s agent had told him of interest from the French Pro D2 and they were awaiting a formal offer for the back row to continue on. play professional rugby. It was supposed to be a pit stop in Ireland.
Fast forward to today and Coghlan prepares to feature for Terenure in the All-Ireland League final against Clontarf at Aviva Stadium [KO 3pm, TG4]. The 29-year-old was instrumental in Terenure’s run to the final, bringing experience from a career that also involved time with Leinster and Munster.
The main reason that kept Coghlan home beyond the first two weeks was the fact that his grandfather, Tom, was sick. The couple had a strong bond and Jordan realized that his grandmother, Mary, would need help caring for him.
Sadly, Tom passed away last month and he will be sadly missed by the whole family today at the Aviva. Jordan was extremely close to Tom, so it was a simple decision for him to stay home last summer.
“My grandfather would have sent me to school, it was because of him that I played so many sports,” says Coghlan.
“I think he played for Leinster when he was younger and he was crazy about cricket too. When I was 17 he followed me to the U19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and then he surprised me by coming to the U20 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
“He and my grandmother Mary followed me everywhere and I owe him a lot. His passing was a great loss for the whole family. I will always be with him to discuss sports, he was just crazy about sports.
Tom would have loved to be there in person today, although Coghlan says his grandfather would have encouraged the opposition.
“He was a massive Tarf man with every bone in his body.”
Coghlan spent two seasons with Leicester.
Credit: James Crombie/INPHO
Jordan was in charge of Clontarf himself growing up, starting rugby with the club’s minis section. His younger cousins play there now, his uncle Bill was Clontarf’s cricket captain and his older cousin – former Irish captain Fiona – is another Tarf stalwart.
All of his childhood friends will be cheering on Clontarf and two of his best friends, twin brothers Adrian and Matt D’Arcy, are key players in Andy Wood’s team. Their older brother, Conor, jokingly nicknamed Coghlan “Judas” when he played for Garryowen and UCD during his Munster and Leinster days, so the teasing is obvious.
“I have my mom, she will definitely wear purple for the final,” Coghlan said.
“It’s the game everyone wanted to see and I know my grandfather before he died would have loved to be in the Aviva to watch it.”
So how did Coghlan end up playing for Terenure this season?
Clontarf was the obvious destination, but Terenure head coach Sean Skehan and manager Mark Hamilton asked Coghlan to meet them, then offered to help him land a new full-time job by arranging interviews with a few tech companies in Dublin.
It made sense to Coghlan as he left professional rugby. He had never done an interview before and jokes that some of them probably got “horribly wrong” but he was hired by US software company ActiveCampaign and has been working as a representative for almost six months. of sales development based in their Shelbourne Road offices.
Coghlan is ‘over the moon’ working for the company and there is some overlap with his rugby career, with mini goals each week and big longer-term goals to achieve. In short, he did not miss professional rugby.
“The way everything went at the end of my time with Leicester because of Covid, you’re not playing, there’s loads of stuff going on in the background at home,” Coghlan explains.
Coghlan was with Munster for the 2015/16 season.
“I didn’t like it at Leicester and coming home was a new life. The way things were at home led to the decision to play with Terenure. I’m enjoying the rugby again, I’m surrounded of family and friends.
“Everyone struggled during Covid but when you’re abroad…I was locked up in Leicester and didn’t come home for eight months, hadn’t seen my grandparents in over ‘a year. Once back, being comfortable here with my family and friends, it was hard to leave.
Coghlan had always had it in mind to end his rugby days with a return to the AIL and this season has been even better than he could have imagined, with Skehan’s Terenure side leading the club to his very first AIL final.
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Coghlan already knew many of the team’s players, as he was blown away by the atmosphere at home games at Lakelands, where the club set up beer and food tents to create a real sense of big events.
“The atmosphere of our matches resembles something you sometimes find in a professional match. Like Clontarf, it’s very family-oriented and you feel part of it. It’s probably the best part of rugby in Ireland, so it’s hard not to enjoy it.
Last weekend’s semi-final win over Lansdowne in front of a crowd of over 2,000 at Lakelands was a loud and emotional occasion.
“There were older guys from the club who came up to the players in the marquee last weekend, screaming and crying and saying how proud and happy they were that we were in the final,” Coghlan said.
He was impressed with the level of rugby at the AIL, the physique of the top teams and the quality of the young players moving up the ranks and seeking academy contracts with the provinces. It compares well to the championship.
Coghlan loved his return to the AIL this season.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
And so Coghlan is now in a happy place and can reflect on his professional career with no regrets after five years in England, which followed a breakthrough at his native Leinster to win a cap and then a season with Munster in 2015/ 16.
“When I first went over the top I knew there would be no playing time at Munster with players like Peter O’Mahony coming back from injury so I purely took the decision to spend playing time.
“I absolutely loved my three years at Nottingham, a great place to go and restart your rugby career playing week after week against big league teams.
“When I was at Leicester they were bottom of the table, players were coming and going, there wasn’t a lot of consistency and that probably would have helped a bit. Covid sort of destroyed my last year there. had new coaches coming in. Obviously I could have done better, it wasn’t just a matter of timing, but I have no regrets.
“I’ve played for three of the biggest clubs in Europe, historically, so I had to do something along the way.
“I’m proud of the teams I’ve played for and the things I’ve done in my career. Now it’s just about enjoying it. I’m almost 30 but I still have a lot rugby in me and I really enjoy it.