The imminent appointment of former Tir Chonaill Gaels boss Paul Coggins as new London football manager has been warmly welcomed in the capital. Graham Clifford spoke to the Roscommon man about the task at hand
THE NEXT time you moan about being tired or lacking energy, think of Paul Coggins. Not only has the Roscommon man just started a new business but he and his wife Ann are busy looking after their sons John Paul (4) and nine-month-old Patrick. And if that wasn’t enough the Tir Chonaill Gaels clubman has also agreed to take over as London football manager for the next three years.
One of London’s most successful senior club managers in the modern era, Coggins knows the next few months and years are likely to be hectic but he’s confident that by putting together a strong backroom team, success on the playing field for the Exiles will come. Coggins’ appointment must be ratified at the next County Board meeting but it will almost certainly be a formality, a necessary process which must first be undertaken before he can begin his regime.
Given his years of involvement in GAA in London, the father of two is well aware of the stumbling blocks which must be overcome if the Exiles are to improve. Over the last five years his de facto predecessor Noel Dunning spoke of the inevitable turnover of players which in the past has been part and parcel of the game overseas. But perhaps Coggins’ timing is more fortunate than that of Dunning and previous London managers.
Where once players were returning to Ireland after a few months in the capital, that option has been removed for most given the dire economic situation at home. As well as that the GAA scene here is likely to see even more players arriving with no plans to return home in the short term at least.
As he sets about juggling family, work and GAA commitments, Coggins told The Irish Post this week that he’s very much looking forward to the challenges that being an inter-county manager presents. He said: “I’m very excited by it all. So far I’ve received very positive feedback from everyone I’ve spoken to around London GAA and that means a lot to me. In the coming weeks and months I’m eager to speak to club managers, chairmen, secretaries and anyone who feels they can help me and the London team. If we all pull together I’m sure progress can be achieved.”
Coggins is still putting his backroom staff together, a mission he describes as “vital” to his tenure. Given his standing in London GAA circles, the new manager is likely to have little difficulty locating those willing to help, but he’s eager to dispel any notions of bringing a magic wand to the London county footballers immediately.
“I want to bring in my own ideas and make an impact but that will take time. While incorporating new players where needs be, we simply must try to bring new homegrown players on and that won’t happen overnight. It’s imperative that we put a solid and stable structure in place. Of course I’ll be aiming for us to have a strong league next year but perhaps real progress will be seen in the second season,” said Coggins.
Paul’s new business JBM Machines, which he set up with Galway man Michael Jordan, is in its infancy but Coggins says he’s received great support from his business partner. “In fairness to Michael he’s very understanding about my choice and very supportive. We provide equipment and develop software for the refrigeration and catering industry. The business is a big challenge at the moment but so too is the new manager’s job.”
Paul admits his wife Ann, from Donegal, is slowly coming around to the fact that her husband has taken on this new role in London GAA after taking a break from the game. “She was a bit surprised at first but as anyone that knows us will tell you her support is crucial in everything we do,” says Paul.
True, there may not be enough days in the week for the new London boss at the minute, but one thing you can be sure of is that he’ll spend every day doing his best on all fronts.
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