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Cork defender Denis Coughlan tries to attract the referee's attention as Cork defender John Horgan and Limerick forward Joe McKenna end up on the ground after a scramble for possession in '76.
Cork defender Denis Coughlan tries to attract the referee's attention as Cork defender John Horgan and Limerick forward Joe McKenna end up on the ground after a scramble for possession in '76.
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

The Leeside Legends series: Coughlan was a dual diamond for club and county

THE Glen Rovers club from Blackpool has produced some of the greatest hurlers of the last century.

Players like Christy Ring, Jack Lynch, Din Joe Buckley, Charlie Tobin and Paddy Fox Collins were all players of rare quality that played with this famous club. Since those glory days they've produced the likes of Tomás Mulcahy, Seanie McGrath and Patrick Horgan.

The name of Denis Coughlan is another outstanding hurler who hailed from the Glen, shining through the 1960s and '70s and also performing with distinction for the Cork footballers and St Nicks.

Denis Coughlan presenting Patrick Horgan, captain of the 2006 Glen minor county winners, with his medal. Picture: Damien Quirke
Denis Coughlan presenting Patrick Horgan, captain of the 2006 Glen minor county winners, with his medal. Picture: Damien Quirke

Born in 1945 at Maddens Buildings he began playing with Cuchullain’s in the juvenile section of Glen Rovers team run by Jimmy O’Rourke who done trojan work at that time.

Coughlan was educated at the North Monastery and although he got since terrific coaching at the famed hurling nursery, the Mon went through a lean time in producing quality teams to compete for honours.

After a serious of disappointments at underage level fortune began to smile on Denis in 1964 as he won an All-Ireland junior football medal with Cork.

In the same year he won his first Cork senior hurling county medal with Glen Rovers and a year later added his second hurling championship as well as helping sister club St Nicks to a Senior football title.

The 1966 victory with St Nick’s meant that Denis had the honour of captaining the Cork senior football team in 1967. Cork defeated Kerry in the Munster final and Cavan in the All Ireland semi-final but unfortunately, they came up short in the final when they lost to Meath 1-9 to 0-9.

In 1969 Denis suffered more disappointment when the Cork hurlers were easily defeated by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final. The following year after getting dropped Cork won the title so the elusive first Celtic Cross passed him by.

Throughout this period Denis was a most consistent dual hurler and footballer but in 1972 he suffered a third All- Ireland defeat when Cork lost an eight-point second half lead as Kilkenny once again broke the hearts of the Leesiders.

There was consolation that season when Denis won a senior county medal with the Glen and also picked up his first All-Star award.

A year later in 1973 Denis’s hard work eventually began to bear fruit as he played centre-field in the Cork Senior football team that defeated Galway 3-17 to 2-13.

The Cork team that beat Galway in 1973. Picture: Connolly Collection/SPORTSFILE
The Cork team that beat Galway in 1973. Picture: Connolly Collection/SPORTSFILE

In 1974 he became the first man to captain Cork to win the Munster senior football championship twice.

After their magnificent win against Kerry Cork were hot favourites to retain their All-Ireland crown but they were stunned in the semi-final when they lost to a young Dublin outfit, who of course would go on to be a dominant force for the rest of the decade.

At the end of '74, the strain of playing top level hurling and football began taking his toll on Denis and he decided to retire from both codes. After a break, he opted back in 1976.

 Cork’s half-back Denis Coughlan (right) tussles with Clare’s Martin McKeogh and Pat O’Connor during the 1978 Munster final.

Cork’s half-back Denis Coughlan (right) tussles with Clare’s Martin McKeogh and Pat O’Connor during the 1978 Munster final.

Finally, his timing was spot on. Over the next five seasons he won three senior All-Ireland titles with Cork in 1976, ’77 and 1978 with three All-Stars coming in the same years.

He also won four Munster hurling medals and a national Hurling league medal in 1980.

Denis has many great memories of his sporting career but the year of 1969 is one he will never forget.

“I will never forget the Munster championship of 1969 when we defeated Tipperary as it was 15 years since Cork had beaten them in a Munster championship and that win meant a lot to us.”

He also got to work with a Glen and Cork legend Christy Ring, on and off the field.

 The Glen Rovers team that lined out in 1967 against UCC for Christy Ring’s last game. Back: Denis O’Riordan. Patsy Harte, Denis Coughlan, Mick Lane, Maurice Twomey, Dave Moore, Jerry O’Sullivan, Tom Corbett. Front: Mick Kenneally, Jackie Daly, John Young, Seanie Kennefick, (c); Bill Carroll, Christy Ring and Finbarr O’Neill.

The Glen Rovers team that lined out in 1967 against UCC for Christy Ring’s last game. Back: Denis O’Riordan. Patsy Harte, Denis Coughlan, Mick Lane, Maurice Twomey, Dave Moore, Jerry O’Sullivan, Tom Corbett. Front: Mick Kenneally, Jackie Daly, John Young, Seanie Kennefick, (c); Bill Carroll, Christy Ring and Finbarr O’Neill.

“I had the pleasure of playing with Christy Ring for three years as he was a special hurler and a special person that made him unique.”

Medals and trophies are not the most important when you are playing sport according to Denis.

“Some of the greatest people I have met have been involved in the GAA where I have developed a lot of close friendships as you can only play sport to a certain age, but friends and friendships should last a lifetime.”

True words from a gentleman in every sense of the word whose contribution to Cork will always be respected.

FACTFILE:

  • Denis Coughlan is the holder of three All-Ireland senior hurling medals and one football championship medal.
    The Cork team in 1978. Picture: Connolly Collection/SPORTSFILE
    The Cork team in 1978. Picture: Connolly Collection/SPORTSFILE
  • Denis played a major part when Glen Rovers' seniors won the 1964, ’67, ’69, ’72, and 1976 as well as football medals with St Nicks in 1965 and 1966.
  • Coughlan played on the same team as Christy Ring for three years
  • In 1980 he was player-coach on the Glen Rovers team that lost the county final to St Finbarr’s.
  • Coughlan coached the Cork senior football team in 1985.
  • He retired from playing hurling and football in 1982.