‘I owed it to them’: Jordan Coghlan has no regrets switching allegiances to Terenure

Player relishes extra pressure of facing ‘home’ club Clontarf in Sunday’s final

On any other day the Clontarf Coghlan clan would have had no doubts about where their allegiances lie, but not at the Energia All-Ireland League final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm). For among Terenure's backrow will be one of their own, Jordan Coghlan.

The 29-year-old cut his teeth at mini rugby with his "home" club in Clontarf, yet despite coming up against some lifetime friends in the D'Arcy twins, Adrian and Matt, and forcing his family to switch loyalties, Coghlan couldn't have wished for more fitting opponents in the final.

“It is a funny one,” admits Coghlan. “But it hasn’t been too bad. I was expecting a bit more abuse to be honest from all the usual heads, such as Adrian’s older brother Connor. Clontarf is a club quite close to my heart. I know a lot of the players and the coaches there.”

Clontarf came to Terenure and won 29-14 in round four last October, but only squeezed through by 12-11 at Castle Avenue in March in a match that many, including Coghlan, felt that his side could have won, at a ground he knows better than anywhere.


“It’s going to be a huge occasion for me. To have all my family and friends I grew up with, who are all ‘Tarf supporters, it will certainly be a lot of pressure but it’s something I’m looking forward to.”

Coghlan's grandad Tom, a former president of Clontarf Cricket Club, was the instigator of Coghlan joining and playing both sports as a kid.

“Fiona, or ‘Fifi’, the former Irish women’s captain, is one of my cousins and is a big Clontarf head as well. All the family links through uncles and cousins were always there. The club has been a huge part of my sporting career.”


Coghlan played rugby in Clontarf until boarding in Clongowes but went on playing cricket for the club until he was 18, bowling to his wicketkeeper Adrian D'Arcy – a backrow opponent on Sunday – in the Under-19s World Cup in New Zealand a dozen years ago.

“My family and Aido’s family would be quite close. Adrian’s mother, who passed away a good few years back, would have been very close with my granddad Tom and my granny Mary. My uncle Bill is best mates with Adrian’s older brother Connor.”

All of which beggars the question, why join Terenure?

Well, after five years playing in England with Nottingham and Leicester, he came home for two weeks with a view to perhaps playing in the French ProD2.

“But Grandad was sick, so I decided to stay at home and help out my granny. The drag to come back to Dublin was there as well after five years in the UK.”

At this point the Terenure coaches, Mark Hamilton and Sean Skehan, asked to meet him. "They knew there was every chance I was going to go to Clontarf but said: 'Would you just listen to us?' I did and they helped put a work plan in place.

“I had to look after myself and I just thought Terenure were doing a slight bit more for me. That was really what it came down to. I owed it to them to join Terenure.”

They helped arrange some interviews, on foot of which Coghlan ended up working with an American software company, ActiveCampaign, on Shelbourne Road.

“I’m loving it. They look after you really well. It’s exactly what I wanted, coming home to Dublin, getting a job that I liked and being able to mix with my family and friends. Losing my grandad was sad but in terms of a job and rugby, I couldn’t have asked for a better time or way to come home.

“Terenure is an amazing club. The supporters are second to none and on match days it’s absolutely bonkers. It’s like being at a professional game, especially the semi-final against Lansdowne. I’ve never seen an AIL crowd like it. It’s a real community-based club, just like Clontarf.”


It helped that he had team-mates like Sam Coghlan Murray and Cathal Marsh from his three years in the Leinster Academy, after which he joined Munster for a season before relocating to England.

He feels he was unlucky with the timing of his moves to Munster and Leicester, both of whom were at relatively low ebbs.

“But I made friends for life and I played for three of the biggest clubs in Europe, so you can’t have too many regrets with that.”

The last year with Leicester, during Covid, wasn’t enjoyable, but playing for Terenure has revived his love of playing the game again.

“I’ve no more fear of playing rugby anymore. It’s just excitement every weekend and it’s great to be just enjoying the game again.”

He played 74 times for Nottingham, where he again worked with Ian Costello after doing so at Munster, and says particularly the top four AIL clubs are "not far off" Championship level.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s final, Coghlan reckons he hasn’t been this excited about a match since he made his Leicester debut against Exeter at Welford Road in September 2019, not least as he’s never played at the Aviva before.

His younger sisters, Amy, Molly and Sophie and extended family will be wearing Terenure colours, and Coghlan is delighted to have sparked the change of allegiance.

“It’s exactly what I hoped for to be honest. When I decided to join Terenure I thought, ‘I’d love to get Clontarf in the final, it would be a match made in heaven’.

“I also think Terenure and Clontarf have the two biggest support bases, so it’s made for an absolutely incredible final. I think it’s going to be a great spectacle.”