independent

Sunday 17 February 2019

Cogley in the fast lane

Wexford man selected as National Relay coach

Kevin Cogley with Mo Farah
Kevin Cogley with Mo Farah
Kevin Cogley coaching treble Olympic and multiple world champion LaShawn Merritt from the USA

Alan Aherne

The county's reputation for producing athletics coaches of high quality has been further enhanced with the selection of Kevin Cogley to a prestigious position.

The Wexford town man has been appointed to the Irish national Junior and Youths relay coaching role and has ambitious plans to attract more young Slaneysiders to the sport he has graced since childhood.

Cogley started athletics at the age of twelve when his potential was spotted by the legendary late pair of Harry Keyes and Martin 'Murks' Crowley while running in the Wexford C.B.S. primary school sports day.

And they proved to be shrewd judges as he went on to win the first of roughly 75 national medals aged 15, going on to compete for Ireland that year at the Celtic Games after winning the national 100m and 200m titles.

His progress continued by winning national titles at Under-18 and Junior levels, and this led to his selection for the world Junior championships in Portugal as a member of the Irish 4 x 100m relay team.

He was an established international athlete at that stage, competing in a number of European Cups and winning two bronze medals for the 200m and relay.

A regular at major events on foreign fields, his consistency resulted in a dream selection to travel to South Africa to train with the Irish Olympic team.

The aim was to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard, but Cogley was dealt a cruel blow at the time when sickness forced him out of the sport for a full year.

It took him a long time to recover completely and get back into full stride, but relentless hard work in training paid off and he eventually returned stronger than ever.

This led to his selection on the Irish relay team at the world championships in Athens, after breaking three national records along the way.

And Cogley was a key part of athletics history since this team was the first - and, to date, the last - from Ireland to compete at the world championships over 4 x 100m.

Further Irish titles followed over the years, with one stand-out performance attained with a gold medal-winning run at the national Senior indoor 200m in Nenagh.

Given his prowess as a relay runner, Kevin was a stand-out candidate for his new position.

Many of his national medals came in the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays, while he combined his own international involvement with an aptitude for coaching that has seen him guide other athletes to success inside and outside the country.

He has all the coaching qualifications required for international level, and his selection to this new role comes at an exciting time for athletics in Ireland.

With both the European Youth Olympics and European Junior championships on this year, the immediate aim of Cogley and his colleagues is to get male and female teams selected for these competitions.

They are due to travel abroad for races to achieve the qualification times, while a warm weather training camp is planned for April along with several weekends in Dublin for practice.

'My aim is to learn my trade at this level and in the next few years be appointed to the senior position where hopefully we can bridge the gap from me running at the world championships to the next men's team running at it or, better still, the Olympics,' he said.

'Over 20 years is far too long since a Wexford man or woman competed at the world athletics championships,' added the ambitious Cogley who is determined to bring that barren period to an end.

And with a fellow 'townie', Shane McCormack, doing a fantastic job coaching Phil Healy from Bandon in Cork, one of the brightest sprinting prospects in the country, it's clear that there is a high regard for the county in the sport.

Incidentally, Cogley is a native of Liam Mellows Park in Wexford town, a housing estate surely punching above its weight when it comes to producing talented sportspeople in a variety of disciplines.

Others that spring readily to mind are Masters snooker specialist Rodney Goggins, Germany's international boxing coach Eddie Bolger, and FAI Junior Cup-winning North End United manager John Godkin.

Wexford People