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Irish Football > Football Miscellany > Stephen Coghlan

Rising Irish Football Star - Stephen Coghlan

I receive many weird and wonderful emails via this website. I've had emails from people as far away as Brazil, Nigeria and Malaysia, amongst others, from young people asking can I get them a professional football contract with an Irish football club. They don't care which club, and indeed in most cases they don't even know the names of any Irish soccer clubs. I also get many emails from sports gear manufacturers in Pakistan, India and the Far East trying to flog their wares to me. Then there's the one's from people that want to come to Ireland to live and wonder could I help them with the immigration process (!) - and if it helped their cause they would take up playing soccer. After a while I decided to just ignore the obviously whacky ones and to only respond to the one's that seemed somewhat on the level.

When Dean Van Nguyen contacted me with the following magazine my 'whacky' alert was flashing yellow:

"I am a journalist with the Dubliner magazine, and I'm working on an article about Dublin's best football prospects aged 13-15. I'm hoping someone from yourselves can point me towards some of the kids playing in the Dublin leagues who might fit this profile."

Close up of Stephen Coghlan

I'd heard of the Dubliner magazine but I knew nothing about it and I certainly didn't know Dean. Following a bit of investigation I discovered that Dean was indeed a serious journalist and that his request was genuine. My son David was with a Knocklyon United Under 15 team at the time and he loves football in all its' facets. One of his best friends, Stephen Coghlan, just happens to play for the Republic of Ireland under 14's so, purely through coincidence, I was in a position to recommend that Dean talk to Stephen - with the prior approval of Stephen's parents of course.

With the kind permission of the Dubliner and Dean Van Nguyen I have reproduced Dean's article below. The reference to Stephen's ability to, apparently, hit the cross bar with a football at will is 100% accurate. For me the most amazing thing about this little cameo was the seemingly languid style with which Stephen stroked the ball with his left foot as he hit the cross bar on demand. I was glad I didn't ask him

to do it a third time because if he had missed (and I have absolutely no reason to believe that he might have) it would have ruined the aesthetic of the moment.

John - 23 April 2010

Dubliner / Dean Van Nguyen Article about Stephen Coghlan

Stephen Coghlan lines up on the left side of defence for a practice match with his teammates at Cherry Orchard Football Club. The bad weather has not permitted a competitive game in almost two months, but the team keeps fit by training on the AstroTurf pitches near Liffey Valley Shopping Centre. Every player is itching for the thrill of competition, and they attack this friendly game with all the vigour of a cup final. The ball bobbles around the synthetic pitch as players pursue it wildly, crunching into each other to gain a couple of yards’ advantage. Stephen finally gets his break and, in view of an oncoming opponent, calmly drops his shoulder before shifting the ball onto his opposite foot and gliding away into space. He then neatly releases the ball to a teammate. “I’m not big into the slide tackles, but I can do the simple things,” Stephen told me earlier. “You can depend on me.” He’s being modest.

Moment of quality like this raise a smile from the onlooking coaches and would surely catch the eye of a scout. John Hogan, founder of, remembers the first time he saw Stephen strike a ball: “We were walking towards a set of goalposts and without breaking stride, he drops the ball and hits the crossbar. I said, ‘Do it again,’ and as the ball came back to him he just met it and hit it again. With his kind of skill, he could go places, and it won’t be for a want of dedication or commitment.”

Stephen, just turned 15 years old, is considered one of Ireland’s most promising football prospects. He was selected for the FAI’s Emerging Talent Programme, which helps develop the best youth players in the country through weekly training sessions with qualified FAI coaches.

He started playing for his local team, Knocklyon United, at just six years of age. At ten, he was poached by Cherry Orchard, which has produced international-level footballers like Andy Reid and Glenn Whelan. “After [Knocklyon] played against Cherry Orchard, their manager followed us home,” Stephen tells us. “He asked my Dad could I join them. It was kind of difficult for me to leave Knocklyon but I thought I could improve and win more trophies if I went to Cherry Orchard.”
Stephen Coghlan at a training session with Cherry Orchard FC

Since the move, Stephen has won trophies consistently each year. He’s now at the age where being picked up by an English club is a possibility. “My ambition is to get over to England and just keep improving.”

Dad Eamon isn't so sure. “It’s up to him, but I wouldn't like to see him go over at 16. I've seen so many kids go at that age and they’re brilliant players and still don’t make it. Nowadays, we see players from the League of Ireland and they’re 19 or 20, even 21 or 22, and they’re starting to make it over there. I’d prefer if he did that.”

A natural athlete, there was a time when Gaelic might have been Stephen’s true calling. “He had to give up Gaelic because it’s either one or the other,” says Eamon. You can’t go twice a week training for Gaelic and twice a week training for soccer. Plus, a football match on a Saturday morning and a Gaelic match on a Saturday afternoon would be too much.”

This article was reproduced with the kind permission of the Dubliner Magazine and the article's author Dean Van Nguyen. Dean is a writer / editor that specialises in pop culture, media, sport, arts, fashion, and culture. He is also the founder and editor of popular culture print magazine, One More Robot. To read more please visit the Dean Van Nguyen Blog.

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