Derek Coughlan keeping ahead of the game in new player development role

Cork City legend passing on his knowledge to the next generation 
Derek Coughlan keeping ahead of the game in new player development role

Former Cork City defedner Derek Coughlan and Celtic's Oliver Tebily contest a header at Turner's Cross. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.

HE MAY have retired from playing football prematurely, however the former Cork City star is involved in the beautiful game now more than ever.

Derek Coughlan found it a tough decision to retire from football in 2005. However, he continued to stay involved in the game in many different capacities with his most recent appointment as FAI/ETB Player Development Co-ordinator in Blarney.

“Retiring from football at 28 was a tough decision for when I was faced with the choice of leaving my career in the Airport Police/Fire Service or retiring from the game I loved.

“At that time League of Ireland football was going full-time and Colin O’Brien, Billy Woods and I were the only part-time players in the Cork City squad.

“My job entailed working days, evenings and nights midweek and at weekends, which made it hard to get time off for football. Holding down both careers took its toll on me and when I hung up my boots with Cork City after the FAI Cup final loss in 2005, I never played again.”

Coughlan’s passion for the game proved he would continue to stay involved at some capacity and over a decade later he has gained a lot of experience in different fields and here he tells us about his involvement.

I got back into football when my good friend Mark Herrick founded Headrite Sports and brought me on board with him.

“We delivered heading sessions for the likes of Man City, Brighton and Hove Albion, Millwall and IMG in Florida.

“Cork City, Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers have all adopted our system in their academies as well as many grassroots clubs throughout the country.

Cork City Derek Coughlan and Longford Towns Stuart Byrne tussle for the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork City Derek Coughlan and Longford Towns Stuart Byrne tussle for the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“I also spent time as assistant coach to Liam Kearney with Cork City U17s which was a great experience. I loved being back in a City dressing room and I learned a lot from Liam. He’s a great guy and a fantastic coach."

He is also an FAI Scout, focusing mainly on the international women’s teams.

“It is fantastic to see the female side of the game begin to get the recognition it deserves.

“In recent times I was given the opportunity to write articles for The Irish Examiner, which I really enjoyed as I was writing about Irish football. Submitting your opinions for a national newspaper can be daunting but very rewarding.

“I then started coaching with Carrigtwohill United when my son was old enough to join the academy which is run with precision by Reamonn Walsh.

It is a pleasure to be out on the pitch with the young players, their enthusiasm and love for the game is infectious. We are lucky that we have a great group of coaches with our U9 team who turn up in all conditions.

“I was asked to become Director Of Football last year by chairman Fred Adam who is doing a brilliant job, his work ethic is phenomenal.

“Fred has continued the great work done by previous chairman Martin Jones who brought the club into the Munster Senior League.

“It is amazing to see the effort that goes on behind the scenes from all the volunteers."

His role is an advisory one but he is delighted to be able to help out in any way.

“In the past eight months, we aimed to get as many coaches as possible introduced to coach education and it has been a huge success with 41 coaches attending up to five different courses including the FAI PDP1, PDP2 and Coerver Coaching.

“The current major development for the club is setting up a girl’s academy. This was unfortunately hampered by the pandemic.

“We had an introductory session last September to get a sense of interest in the project. We had a massive response with over 100 girls turning up, which shows how important it is that every club should be looking to introduce the girl’s game into their community.”

Coughlan recently retired from the job in the airport. Although he was sad to leave a position he held for 20 years, he is excited about his new role.

“I retired from the airport in January after 20 years and I have recently taken up the position of FAI/ETB Player Development Coordinator in Blarney.

“In Cork, we are lucky enough to be able to offer a two-year programme. I work with Dave Hill on the QQI Level 4 course while Mick Conroy and Stuart Ashton run the QQI level 5 course.

“It is a golden opportunity to train like a pro while achieving up to 400 CAO points. The fact that you get paid while on the programme makes it a very attractive option for players who are lucky enough to be accepted.

“The success of the programme has been amazing and with Brexit impacting the traditional pathway of players moving to the UK at a young age, I believe the course will play a significant role in developing our players in the future.

I emigrated to England at 17, without even a Leaving Cert, to follow my dream of being a professional footballer so I am passionate about the importance of having a plan B to fall back on.

“Obviously, this role will be my priority going forward but I like staying busy, I have a lot of drive and energy when it comes to all things football.

Cork City legends Joe Gamble and Derek Coughlan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork City legends Joe Gamble and Derek Coughlan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“My ambition for this year is to maximise the potential of the participants on the FAI/ETB programme and play my part in driving the course on even further, with my initial focus on promotion and recruitment.

“I believe we now have a great opportunity to nurture our young talent at home if all the stakeholders work together. I’m currently studying Coaching Psychology at UCC, so completing my degree in July would be a huge achievement for me also.”

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